East Jefferson General Hospital

Mackie Shilstone, the trainer and fitness guru whose 3,000 clients have included Ozzie Smith, Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones and the actor John Goodman, is now working with tennis superstar Serena Williams.

On the shelf of almost a year, Williams, 29, is working out five days a week in hopes of returning this month to defend her Wimbledon title. The problems started when Williams stepped on broken glass and had surgery twice to repair the damage.

The two have been working for three weeks. Shilstone says "is she there now? No. Would you expect her to be there now? No. But I can tell you, slowly but surely she is coming around."

Williams, now No. 25 in the rankings, also had a blood clot and stomach surgery in the past year.

"That would be enough to put any athlete over the deep end," Shilstone said. "But she is so mentally strong. I haven't run into a male athlete as mentally strong, maybe (light heavyweight boxing) Bernard Hopkins is the closest. That's one of the reasons why she is such a great champion."