Eastbourne: Venus Williams marked her return from an abdominal injury with an impressive 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 victory over Germanys Andrea Petkovic at the Eastbourne championships, on Monday.
The five-times Wimbledon champion from the US, playing her first match since Januarys Australian Open third round when she retired after one game also against Petkovic, looked completely at home on the slick grass courts.
It was definitely an adventure today, she said. Falling down every other point, coming back from such a long layoff, competing against someone whos been playing so well in the last 12 months.
I was extremely excited to come back with the win. More than anything I was just really extremely excited to have the opportunity to play another match.
It felt fitting, I guess, Williams said on making her comeback against Petkovic. It was a great way to start it all off.
After benefiting from Williams injury, Petkovic went on to reach the quarter finals in Melbourne and has since risen to No. 11 in the rankings. The 23-year-old led 4-2 in the first set before losing it 7-5, but she fought back well to come from a break down to take the second.
One break in the third set was enough for Williams to seal the a place in the second round where she will play former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic or Julia Goerges of Germany.
Its a victory to be healthy, said Williams, who added that she felt no pain from her hip during the match. As long as I can stay healthy, I know my game will just keep improving every day.
Despite opening the contest with two double-faults in difficult windy conditions on the southern English coast, she battled back from a break down to take the opening set.
Petkovic, one of the most improved players on the Tour this year, hit back to level as the sun broke through on centre court but Williams, who turns 31 this week, raised her game when it mattered to claim victory against the eighth seed.
Neither Venus nor sister Serena, who stole the spotlight on Monday despite not even playing after her decision to return here after a year out with injury and a life-threatening illness, are seeded at the traditional Wimbledon warm-up.
Venus has not played at Eastbourne since she came through the qualifying rounds in 1997 while Serena, the 13-times Grand Slam champion, made her only appearance a year later.