Serena Williams' major announcement after loss at Italian Open

Serena Williams, pictured here during her match against Nadia Podoroska at the Italian Open.
Serena Williams looks on during her match against Nadia Podoroska at the Italian Open. (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images)

Serena Williams has changed her plans for her French Open preparations after a first-up loss at the Italian Open on Wednesday.

Williams crashed out at the first hurdle in Rome, her first match in nearly three months since her semi-final defeat at the Australian Open.

'CAN'T BELIEVE IT': Tennis world stunned by Nadal drama

BRUTAL: Ash Barty's statement amid Naomi Osaka meltdown

On Thursday, the 39-year-old and coach Patrick Mouratoglou announced that Williams will now play at the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma, an event they had originally planned on skipping.

"Change of plans," Mouratoglou tweeted.

"Serena hasn't been competing for a while, and we want to get as many matches under our belt as possible before Roland-Garros.

"So we're adding the Emilia-Romagna Open to our schedule.

"We’ll be back in action next week."

Williams needs one more grand slam title to match the all-time record of Australian great Margaret Court.

She will head to the French Open an outside chance to capture career grand slam 24.

"It's tough to have a first match on clay," said Williams after losing 7-6 (8/6), 7-5 to Argentina's Nadia Podoroska in Rome.

"But I usually don't take this much time off on a clay court season, so usually I play like a Charleston or a Madrid or somewhere.

"So my season doesn't usually start this late on clay. But the training isn't for nothing, so I know that it's just a matter of time.

"Maybe I do need a few more matches, so I'm going to try to figure that out with my coach and my team and see what we would like to do."

Serena Williams, pictured here in action at the Italian Open.
Serena Williams in action at the Italian Open. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Serena Williams struggles in 1000th career match

The eighth seed found it tough going against Podoroska, losing in just under two hours to the 44th-ranked Argentine.

"Overall, it was good for me to play such a clay court player on clay today, but it's a little frustrating," she conceded.

"Yeah, just filling out the game, finding the rhythm. Even sliding and confidence with that, with movement, and just not wanting to break my ankle when I moved.

"That's always like a little struggle in the first two matches, and then I'm raring to go."

Organisers announced on Thursday that Venus Williams has also accepted a wild-card invitation.

The clay-court event in Parma, which was added to the calendar amid the coronavirus pandemic, starts on Sunday.

with agencies

Watch 'Mind Games', the new series from Yahoo Sport Australia exploring the often brutal mental toil elite athletes go through in pursuit of greatness:

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.