Associated Press Serena Williams says she asked for a wild card into the Dubai Championships to combat boredom once she believed her back injury was on the mend. “My back finally started to feel better but it wasn’t better in time for me to play Doha at the level I’d like to play,” Williams said Monday in the United Arab Emirates. “So then it became more about what can I play next and this was next on the calendar. “It gets boring to have to practice every day. I was like, ‘I don’t want to practice anymore. I want to play a match.”’ The American has been sidelined with an aching back since losing a three-set, fourth-round match to Ana Ivanovic at the Australian Open last month. The top-ranked Williams isn’t just playing singles this week in Dubai. She and sister Venus, who also was given a singles wild card into the main draw, were granted wild cards into the doubles as well. “It’s actually going to be good for me to do [play singles and doubles] because it will give me some more match play,” Williams said. Williams, who received a first-round bye, will play Ekaterina Makarova of Russia in the second round today. Meanwhile, Venus Williams made good on the wild card she received by posting a 6-3, 6-2 first-round win over Elena Vesnina of Russia. The 48th-ranked Williams made her first appearance in Dubai since she won her second straight title here in 2010. She’d missed the last three years either because of injury or Sjogren’s Syndrome. “I definitely don’t take for granted any win anymore,” Williams said. “Not that I used to because I earned it. But now it’s even more special.” Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic ousted Sloane Stephens 6-3, 7-5, handing the 18th-ranked American back-to-back first-round losses at Doha and Dubai.