Two familiar faces returned to the courts this week at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, FL. Venus and Serena Williams, though legends in the tennis world have both been largely absent from the circuit due to various health problems that have prevented them from playing a full schedule.
Venus has spent seven months away from competitive tennis as she has dealt with Sjögren’s Syndrome. A debilitating autoimmune disease that has forced her to not only take time away from the game but has also forced her to modify her diet. Venus played her first match on Wednesday against Kimiko Date-Krumm ousting the Japanese player in only 77minutes 6-0, 6-3.
“It was great to be back out there,” Williams said afterwards. “It was definitely a bit nerve-wracking, especially playing an opponent I know is talented in my first match back, but I was able to get a great start and settle in and play well against a really difficult opponent. It was definitely an ideal, ideal start.”
Venus’s next opponent will no doubt require her to dig a little deeper if she wants to move on in through the weekend in Miami. On the other end of the net will be No. 3 in the world Petra Kvitova. They are slated to play Friday night in prime time and Venus had this to say about her opponent. “In some ways we play a very similar game.” Williams said. “She has been playing very well in the last 12 months or so, it’s just totally a credit to her. But I have had a lot of experience with playing well – I’ll go in focused on executing my game and trying my absolute best, which is the same thing she will be doing.”
Serena also made quick work of her second round opponent routing Zhang Shuai 6-2, 6-3. Serena was given a first round bye due to her seeding. She has won this event a record tying five times but as been absent from Miami for three years as she has also battled various injuries and health problems. A left ankle injury has kept Serena from playing since her loss at the Australian Open in the fourth round. Though she made a brief appearance at the Fed Cup in February, she has otherwise used the time to rehab and rest in preparation for the upcoming year.
“I’m always a little nervous in the first round, and I kind of chill out after that,” she commented. “It’s always the same. It’s always been the same. Last time I played I played horrible, and I was thinking as long as I don’t hit a ball into the stands I’ll be good – I didn’t do that today, so it worked out well for me.”
Serena will face No. 21 Roberta Vinci in the third round of play with a little bit of history facing her. She is only six wins away from tying Steffi Graf for most wins in Miami. She is currently 53-6 on these courts.