22 Mar 2012

Triumphant returns for Clijsters and Venus

7:15 pm on 22 March 2012

Former world number one tennis players Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters made triumphant returns to the WTA after long layoffs with victories on Wednesday at the Miami hardcourt tournament.

Seven-time grand slam champion Williams hadn't played a WTA event since pulling out of last year's US Open with an auto-immune disorder, and she says her 77-minute 6-0 6-3 drubbing of Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm was "nerve-wracking".

Belgium's Clijsters has struggled with a list of ailments in the past year and hadn't played since her Australian Open semi-final loss to current world-best Victoria Azarenka, but rallied to eliminate Australia's Jarmila Gajdosova 4-6 6-1 6-0.

Williams advanced to a second-round match against Czech third seed and Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who had a first-round bye, while next up for Clijsters is her first match against Germany's 14th-seeded Julia Goerges.