Williams, Clijsters make triumphant returns

21 Mar 2012 22:46

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

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams, who has not played a WTA event since pulling out of last year's US Open, defeated Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-0, 6-3 in 77 minutes.

Williams announced at last year's US Open she had been diagnosed with the auto-immune disorder Sjogren Syndrome. The illness saps her energy and causes pain in her joints.

Clijsters, playing for the first time since her Australian Open semi-final loss to Victoria Azarenka, rallied to eliminate Australia's Jarmila Gajdosova 4-6, 6-1, 6-0.

Clijsters, who won at Miami in 2005 and 2010, skipped last week's Indian Wells tournament to rest her injured ankle.

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

First round matches began in the men's draw with Russian Nikolay Davydenko outlasting American James Blake 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, to book a second-round date with US 10th seed John Isner, the runner-up to Roger Federer last week at Indian Wells.

Colombia's Alejandro Falla 6-1, 2-1 when Uzbek Denis Istomin retired with an injury, advancing the South American into a second-round match with British fourth seed Andy Murray.

Chile's Fernando Gonzalez was set to open his farewell event against Frenchman Nicolas Mahut on Wednesday night. Gonzalez, a three-time Olympic medalist, announced his decision to retire last month after this event.