22 March 2012 09:11

MIAMI - Venus Williams returned to action for the first time since August with a straight-sets win over Kimiko Date-Krumm in the first round of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.
Williams, who had not played since pulling out of the US Open before her second-round match against Sabine Lisicki due to illness, claimed a 6-0 6-3 victory over her 41-year-old Japanese opponent.
The five-time Wimbledon champion has been sidelined with Sjogren's syndrome, a disorder of the immune system.
"It was great to be back out there," said the 31-year-old, who will face reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the second round.
She added: "Someone with an autoimmune disease definitely faces different challenges than other people, but it doesn't mean you can't be successful."
Chile's Fernando Gonzalez, who was runner-up to Roger Federer in the 2007 Australian Open final, played the final match of his career last night as he retired following defeat to France's Nicolas Mahut.
Britain's Andy Murray paid tribute to a player who beat him in two of their three meetings, including a French Open quarter-final defeat in 2009.
"I think everybody would agree he's one of the most exciting players to watch," said Murray.
"He had a massive forehand, one of the biggest probably ever. He could hit winners from anywhere on the court." (PA)