Venus Reveling In Return To Action
Published August 12, 2013 12:00
For half an hour, Venus Williams appeared to be making what could only be described as the perfect comeback.
In her first match following two months out nursing a troublesome back, Williams reeled off six unanswered games against No.13 seed Kirsten Flipkens in the first round of the Rogers Cup. However, the fairytale return would not last.
Flipkens belatedly got her name on the scoreboard at the start of the second set before breaking immediately after to sow the first seed of doubt in Williams' mind.
"I wasn't expecting to play that well in the first set, so I think when my level dropped in the second I just didn't handle it well," Williams said. "But I was still pretty close there to closing that match out."
The second set eventually went the way of the Belgian, before she overran a fatiguing Williams in the decider. "Then I got down in the third," she added. "I think I just sprayed a few balls early in the second and got a little tentative. I'd played very sporadically in the last few months and I think it showed at the end."
Despite the end result, Williams comforted herself with a number of other positives from her return. "I probably didn't make the best choices out there all the time, but in general it was really fun to be back out and just getting ready for next week.
"I want to play more matches. It wasn't meant to be in this match, but I'm excited to being able to at least play three sets."
After spending so much time on the sidelines in recent years - she missed much of 2011 and the start of 2012 due to her ongoing battle with Sjögren's Syndrome - Williams is getting used to making comebacks and knows that she may have to take a few unexpected losses on her path back to the top.
"You have to start somewhere. I feel like I'm doing better than I was maybe this time last year," Williams said. "But regardless, I think I have made like four comebacks in the last three years, so it's something I'm getting used to now!
"But hopefully this will be the last one for a long time. And like I said, when you're coming back to playing matches you have to just take the positives and then learn from the mistakes and build on that, and so I just look forward to building on it next week."
Next week is Cincinnati, where the 33-year-old reached the semifinals 12 months ago. This time she begins against qualifier Jana Cepelova, with a rematch against Flipkens the potential reward should she prevail.
Cincinnati represents Williams' last opportunity for match practice ahead of the year's final major, the US Open, and while certain aspects of her game are not firing on all cylinders just yet, she is revelling in her return to competition.
"I just really started serving a lot more in the last week, so I'm not really, you know, 100% on the serve yet.
"Coming back from injury, you have to build the confidence as you a realizing that you can now play without pain. So I feel like I'm in that threshold of building confidence, and I'm really enjoying competing again and just want to play as many matches as possible before the US Open."