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Two of Italy's finest opened their Internazionali BNL d'Italia campaigns with very impressive wins. Venus Williams also made a winning return to the courts.

Published May 12, 2014 12:15


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ROME, Italy - The first round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia kicked off on Monday, with a pair of Italian trailblazers and one of the WTA's greatest legends posting impressive straight set victories.

Find out where you can watch live action from Rome on WTA TV developed by Xerox!

That WTA legend was Venus Williams - the seven-time Grand Slam champion and former World No.1 went down an early break against Annika Beck but won 11 of the next 13 games to prevail, 6-3, 6-1.

Williams was playing her first match in over a month - 39 days to be exact, since falling to Eugenie Bouchard at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston on April 3. She had been out since due to illness.

"After Charleston I put my racquets down and wasn't able to play anywhere for a while," Williams said. "I got back on the court about a week before Madrid, just taking my time and getting my rhythm again."

And that rhythm was there after the first few games on Monday. "It was actually fabulous," she said. "Today I spent the first two games trying to get my flow again, and after that I felt pretty good.

"I've always loved clay, and I've won a few big titles on clay, so I'm happy to be back now."

Italy's first two Top 10 players - Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone - were also among the winners. Schiavone was the first to win, upsetting No.17 seed Bouchard in the day session, 6-4, 6-2. Schiavone, a former World No.4 currently down at No.61 in the world, hadn't beaten a Top 20 player since Marion Bartoli at least year's French Open - she had lost 12 in a row against the elite since.

Pennetta, the No.12 seed, won through in the feature night match, winning the last four games in both sets to see off veteran-on-the-rise Yvonne Meusburger in front of her home crowd, 6-2, 6-3.

"It was a really good day for me, and for Francesca too," Pennetta said afterwards. "The first match at any tournament is hard, especially here for us in Rome - it's completely, completely different.

"But I'm pretty happy with the way I played tonight."

The other three seeds in action had mixed results, with No.11 seed Ana Ivanovic beating Italian wildcard Karin Knapp, 6-1, 6-1, and No.16 seed Sloane Stephens rallying from a set and a break down to beat Bojana Jovanovski, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, but No.15 seed Sabine Lisicki falling to Sam Stosur, 6-3, 6-3.

Alizé Cornet, Andrea Petkovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Elena Vesnina, Zhang Shuai, Madison Keys, Varvara Lepchenko, Casey Dellacqua, Petra Cetkovska and Paula Ormaechea also advanced.

Read more about Ivanovic's win here, Stosur's win here, Williams' win here and Schiavone's win here.

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