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TENNIS > Venus wins in first game since August

KEY BISCAYNE, Florida - The Associated Press

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Former world No. 1 tennis player Venus Williams serves to Japan’s Kimiko Date-Krumm at the Sony Ericsson Open tournament in Key Biscayne, Florida.

Former world No. 1 tennis player Venus Williams serves to Japan’s Kimiko Date-Krumm at the Sony Ericsson Open tournament in Key Biscayne, Florida.

Venus Williams won in her first singles match since August, dispatching Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-0, 6-3 at the Sony Ericsson Open on March 21.

She smiled, raised her arms in victory, then skipped to the net to shake the 41-year-old Date-Krumm’s hand before twirling around and pumping her arms in a celebration worthy of winning the title.

Other than playing a doubles match during the United States’ Fed Cup first-round victory over Belarus last month, Williams hadn’t played an official match since the U.S. Open first round.

The 31-year-old Williams withdrew from her second-round match against Sabine Lisicki at the U.S. Open after announcing she had been diagnosed with the fatigue-causing, auto-immune disease known as Sjogren’s Syndrome.

“I mean, just to be in this tournament is a huge win for me. Just to be here is a win,” Williams said. “That’s what I told myself going in, that this is a win. I have nothing to lose.” Once a world No. 1 and a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion, Williams is ranked No. 134 and was playing on a wild-card entry at Key Biscayne. She’s hoping to be able to play steadily now and to make her third U.S. Olympic team — she won gold in singles and doubles at the 2000 Sydney Games and a doubles gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.

In the first set, Williams lost only seven points on serve. She dropped her serve only once in the match, in the first game of the second set.

She will next play Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who had a bye into the second round as the No. 3 seed.

Two-time Sony Ericsson champion Kim Clijsters came through a 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 first-round match against Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia.

Unseeded Clijsters, a four-time Grand Slam champion, is currently ranked No. 37.

This match was Clijsters’ first competitive match since the Australian Open.

March/23/2012

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