KEY BISCAYNE, Florida — Venus Williams won her first singles match since August, dispatching Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-0, 6-3 at the Sony Ericsson Open Wednesday.
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, Venus hadn’t played an official match since the US Open first round.
The 31-year-old Williams withdrew from her second-round match against Sabine Lisicki at the US Open after announcing she had been diagnosed with the fatigue-causing, auto-immune disease known as Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Once a world No. 1 and a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion, Venus 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 US Olympic team — she won gold in singles and doubles at the 2000 Sydney Games and a doubles gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.
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.
In other results, Michaella Krajicek of Netherlands beat Czech player Eva Birnerova 5-7, 6-4, 6-0 to move into a second-round match against top-ranked Victoria Azarenka.
On the men’s side, Argentina’s David Nalbandian beat Steve Darcis of Belgium 6-4, 7-6 (0), Russian veteran Nikolay Davydenko beat American James Blake 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, Tommy Haas of Germany had a 6-4, 6-4 win over Guillaume Rufin, France and Nicolas Mahut of France had a 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (3) win over former Australian Open finalist Fernando Gonzalez of Chile, who was playing his game match. — Agencies