"I've always played with such a big crowd," Serena Williams tells PEOPLE in this week's issue
serena williams
Serena Williams

Serena Williams will soon return to the Grand Slam circuit — but fans won't be there in person for the ride.

The 38-year-old tennis star tells PEOPLE in this week's issue that she's ready to adapt to the fans-free environment at the upcoming U.S. Open at the end of this month. No crowds are allowed at the annual Queens tournament due to safety precautions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

"I've always played with such a big crowd," Williams says. "Without fans, how will I do? I don't even know. But I look at it as another experience. A wild experience."

Williams notes to PEOPLE that "tennis is an awesome socially distanced sport," and that she's been training daily at home at the court she had built.

She previously confirmed that she'd be playing in the Open, speaking in a video on the tournament's official Twitter account. "I feel like the USTA is going to do a really good job of ensuring like everything is amazing and everything is perfect and everyone is safe," she said at the time, adding, "It's going to be exciting."

RELATED: Serena Williams Has Struggled with Migraine for Years: ‘I Got Used to Playing Through the Pain’

The four-time Olympian, 38, reveals to PEOPLE in the issue that she's suffered periodic migraine attacks since her twenties when she first experienced the “debilitating, throbbing pain."

For more on Williams and her struggle with migraine, pick up a copy of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

serena williams
Serena Williams
| Credit: Damon Winter/The New York Times

Williams says there have been “so many” matches where she just had to power through her migraine attacks, like a 2001 match she lost to Martina Hingis in Sydney.

“You can't go into a press conference with the media asking, ‘Well, what happened?’ and say ‘Well I had a migraine attack,’ ” she says. “I had to figure out a way to work through it.”