Venus Williams marks return with convincing victory

 

Venus Williams marked her return to competitive action for the first time in over six months with a straight-sets win over Kimiko Date-Krumm in the first round of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.

Williams, who had not played since being knocked out of the second round of last year's US Open by Sabine Lisicki due to illness, required just one hour and 17 minutes to record a 6-0 6-3 victory over her 41-year-old Japanese opponent.

The five-time Wimbledon champion has been sidelined with Sjogren's syndrome, a disorder of the immune system, and was delighted to be back playing again.

"It was great to be back out there," the 31-year-old said.

"It was definitely nerve-wracking, especially playing an opponent that I know how talented she is and first match back.

"But I was able to get a great start and settle in and play well."

Williams dismissed the suggestion she may have considered retirement due to her condition.

She added: "I'm not at my worst anymore. So that helps, as well. Someone with an autoimmune disease definitely faces different challenges than other people, but it doesn't mean you can't be successful."

Unseeded Williams will face third seed, and reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the second round.

"I think in some ways we play a very similar game," Williams said. "Obviously she's been playing very well in the last 12 months or so. It's just totally a credit to her.

"I have had a lot of experience with playing well. I played all right today. I'm going into this just focused on executing my game and just trying my absolute best, which is the same thing she'll be trying to do."

Meanwhile in her first match since suffering an ankle injury in the Australian Open, former world number one Kim Clijsters was pushed before overcoming Australia's Jarmila Gajdosova 4-6 6-1 6-0.

Other women's first-round winners included Israel's Shahar Peer, Sweden's Sofia Arvidsson, Czech pair Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, and Russian qualifier Valeria Savinykh.

Hungary's Melinda Czink continued her strong run, having beaten Britain's former junior Wimbledon champion Laura Robson in the final round of qualifying.

Czink beat Italian Alberta Brianti 6-1 6-2 to set up a second-round clash with Chinese eighth seed Li Na.

Holland's Michaela Krajicek will tackle world number one Victoria Azarenka in the second round after beating qualifier Eva Birnerova 5-7 6-4 6-0.

Tour veterans Tommy Haas and Arnaud Clement made it into the second round of the men's competition with victories over Guillaume Rufin and Dudi Sela respectively.

The 33-year-old Haas beat Frenchman Rufin 6-4 6-4 while Clement, one year Haas' senior, saw off Israeli 26-year-old Sela 6-3 6-3.

Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov was a 6-2 6-2 winner over Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, while other winners included Robin Haase, Xavier Malisse, Nikolay Davydenko, Lukas Lacko and Lukas Rosol.

Former top-10 player David Nalbandian edged past Belgian Steve Darcis in his opener, the Argentinian surviving 7-6 (7/0) 6-4, while Portugal's Frederico Gil had a fine 6-3 6-4 win over Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci, a player ranked 38 places ahead of him at 47th in the world.

Croatian qualifier Antonio Veic beat American teenager Denis Kudla 2-6 6-2 6-1, while Spanish qualifier Roberto Bautista-Agut ousted Italian Andreas Seppi 6-3 1-6 6-3.

There were also successes for Ivan Dodig, Alejandro Falla and Santiago Giraldo.

In the evening session, France's Nicolas Mahut beat Chile's Fernando Gonzalez 7-5 4-6 7-6 (7/3), a match significant for it being the last match of 31-year-old Gonzalez's career.

The 2007 Australian Open runner-up recently announced he would quit due to injury problems, and world number four Andy Murray paid tribute to a player renowned as an exciting shot-maker.

"I think everybody would agree he's one of the most exciting players to watch," said Murray, who lost two of his three career matches against Gonzalez, including a French Open quarter-final defeat in 2009.

"He had a massive forehand, one of the biggest probably ever. He could hit winners from anywhere on the court. Great character. He's quite up and down emotionally, but that's something that made him fun to watch.

"I get on very well with him. He's a really nice guy, too. So I wish him well with his retirement. He had a fantastic career."

PA

News
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
businessUber, Snapchat and Facebook founders among those on the 2015 Forbes Billionaire List
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Homer’s equation, in an episode in 1998, comes close to the truth, as revealed 14 years later
science
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003