Venus Williams won her first WTA tournament in more than two years yesterday, beating Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-2, 6-3 to take the Luxembourg Open title.
Slowed for two seasons by injuries, Williams showed she still has the winning touch while Niculescu proved error-prone as she sought her first title.
Williams, now ranked No 41, had not won a tournament since early 2010, when she took the titles in Dubai and Acapulco in short order but yesterday's success gives the 32-year-old her 44th singles title in a career that includes seven Grand Slams.
Throughout the match, Williams (above) rarely looked in trouble, taking the initiative and never letting go. For a player who relies strongly on her serve, she was successful on only 63 per cent of her first serves and did not manage a single ace on the indoor hard-courts at CK Sportcentre Kockelsheuer.
The victory was a welcome turnaround for Williams, who has been struggling for several years from an autoimmune disease, which often left her fatigued and with painful joints. She only started her season in March following a seven-month layoff because of the illness.
Even then, it often was a slog through the summer in singles play, as she struggled to capture the style and power of old.
Meanwhile Britain's US Open champion Andy Murray has pulled out of the Swiss Indoors in Basle, starting today, with a back injury. The Olympic champion had been seeded second behind the defending champion, Roger Federer. Murray's primary focus will be the Paris Masters which starts next Monday before the ATP World Tour Finals at London's O2 the week afterwards.
Juan Martin del Potro could still claim one of the last three places to join Murray in London after taking the Vienna Open title with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Slovenian qualifier Grega Zemlja.
Del Potro currently stands seventh in the race for the Tour Finals starting on 5 November. Federer, Murray, Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and David Ferrer have already booked their places.