Serena Williams made a winning return to action with a win over Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova at Eastbourne.
The 29-year-old, out of action due to injury and health problems since winning last year's Wimbledon, looked nervy and sluggish initially before settling down to win 1-6 6-3 6-4.
"She's an unbelievable player, she beat Venus at Wimbledon last year and when I saw the draw I thought 'oh my God'," said Serena. "I'm a little rusty but I enjoy being back on the grass."
With barely 20 minutes on the clock, Williams was 5-0 down as the American slapped amateurish forehands into the net and looked leaden-footed. There were gradual signs that she was beginning to rediscover her feel as she held serve at the start of the second set and forged a break ahead on her way to levelling the match.
She broke again at the start of the decider with some forceful tennis and confident forays to the net and wrapped up victory with an un-returnable backhand.
Meanwhile, former world number one Ana Ivanovic reached the second round with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Julia Goerges and fourth-seed Francesca Schiavone beat Kaia Kanepi 7-6, 6-1 to also progress.
Venus wins as well
Earlier, Venus also made a successful return by beating eighth-seed Andrea Petkovic 7-5, 5-7, 6-3.
She last competed in the Australian Open third round, when she had to quit after one game due to an abdominal injury. Venus was relishing her time back in the limelight.
"It was great coming back from such a long layoff, competing against someone who's been playing so well in the last 12 months," said Venus.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2011.
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