Venus advances at Charleston

03 Apr 2012 19:46

Venus Williams, bidding to build up her ranking after a lengthy lay-off in time to book an Olympic berth, reached the second round of the WTA's Charleston green clay tournament Tuesday.

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams, currently ranked 87th in the world, needed 79 minutes to dispatch qualifier Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-3.

Williams, who received a wild card invitation into the draw of the $740,000 premier level tournament -- which she won in 2004 -- booked a clash with seventh-seeded Serbian Jelena Jankovic, who enjoyed a first-round bye.

Williams finished out of the top 100 in the world last year for the first time in 15 years after a season plagued by injury and illness.

She withdrew from the second round of the US Open, where she revealed she had been diagnosed with the auto-immune disorder Sjogren syndrome, and didn't play again until making it to the quarter-finals at Miami last week.

Williams fell to eventual Miami champion Agnieszka Radwanska, but her run on the hard courts at Key Biscayne was enough to lift her 47 spots in the world rankings and back into the top 100.

Serena Williams, the 2008 Charleston champion and the No. 5 seed, was due on court later Tuesday, taking on Russian Elena Vesnina in a second-round match.

Vesnina was runner-up to Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki here last year.