Venus Wins Comeback Match In Eastbourne
Published June 13, 2011 12:00
EASTBOURNE, England - On a muggy Friday night in Melbourne four and a half months ago, Venus Williams and Andrea Petkovic took Rod Laver Arena for their third round Australian Open match, but the questions were all around Williams as she had suffered a hip injury on the same court two days earlier.
For the first time in 251 Grand Slam matches in her career, Williams had to retire, after just one game, granting Petkovic passage into the second week. "I feel very sorry for Venus," the German commented afterwards. "I just hope she gets better because she's such a great champion. It's players like her that pull the people out to Grand Slams, so I feel very sorry for her." Little did either of them know how long it would take Williams to return to the tennis courts.
She did just that on Monday and coincidentally it was Petkovic on the other side of the net, and this time Williams came up a winner, at times showing some rust but overall displaying that champion's spirit to prevail, 75 57 63.
"It was definitely an adventure: the conditions, falling down every other point," Williams joked. "Coming back from such a long lay-off and competing against someone who has been playing so well the last 12 months, there was a lot going on out there, but I was extremely excited to come back with a win."
Williams said the injuries that kept her out for so long - right hip from Australia and a subsequent abdominal injury - were behind her. "I never thought I'd be out about five months, I never thought it would take that long. There were times I felt I wasn't getting any better, and that was frustrating. But I never let it slow me down. I knew I'd eventually have a chance to compete out here again."
And on the coincidence of playing Petkovic in her comeback match? "It was very interesting when I drew her. She's excellent. It's a tough match for her because I'm kind of a floater right now, and normally she would get through the first round. It was a bit of bad luck for her, but for me it was a great opportunity. It was fitting in a way. It was very ironic. It was a great way to start it off.
"As long as I can stay healthy I know my game will just keep improving."
Serena Williams will play the first match of her own comeback on Tuesday afternoon. Read about some of Serena's pre-tournament thoughts here.
Petkovic, who was the No.8 seed, was the only seeded player to fall on Day 1 of the tournament, with No.3 seed Victoria Azarenka rallying from 5-2 down in the second set and saving three set points to beat Peng Shuai, 64 76(2); No.5 seed Petra Kvitova recovering from a one set deficit to dispatch Anastasija Sevastova, 57 61 63; and No.7 seed Sam Stosur beating Nadia Petrova, 61 64. Petrova had won all four of she and Stosur's prior meetings in straight sets.