Kim Clijsters and Venus Williams marked their returns to the WTA Tour with victories in the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.

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Clijsters, playing for the first time since her Australian Open semi-final defeat to Victoria Azarenka, had skipped last week’s Indian Wells tournament to rest her injured ankle and was forced to dig deep for a 4-6 6-1 6-0 win over Australia’s Jarmila Gajdosova to reach the second round . And the 28-year-old, a winner of the Miami event in 2005 and 2010, overcame a sluggish start to book her place in round two, where she will next play 14th seed Julia Goerges for the first time in her career. It’s always tough to get that first match rhythm under your belt,” Clijsters told the WTA website. “When it comes down to my game I felt I wasn’t quite going through my shots as I should have. I was just trying to find that rhythm, but on the other hand forgetting to still play aggressive tennis. “But as I started to feel more comfortable with the conditions and being in a match situation again I was hitting better, and that showed in the second and third sets.” Clijsters also said the ankle that kept her out since Australia is 95 per cent good now. “It had been a while since I played a match,” she added. “My last tournament was in Melbourne, a good month and a half or two months ago, or even longer. I was home rehabbing my ankle and had a really good practice and physical schedule. But it’s just a matter of getting those matches again. “One thing I can count on is I have the experience, though. It doesn’t take me that long to get used to it again. But it has become tougher.”

Venus Williams also made a winning return to action as she beat Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-0 6-3. The seven-time Grand Slam champion, who has not played a WTA event since pulling out of last year’s US Open, cruised to victory in 77 minutes. The American fired down five aces and landed 56 per cent of her first serves while surrendering only one service break. She will now take on Czech third seed Petra Kvitova, who had a first-round bye, in the second round. Williams announced at the 2011 US Open she had been diagnosed with the auto-immune disorder Sjogren Syndrome, an illness which saps energy and causes joint pains.




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