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Venus Williams returns with victory to the Auckland Classic

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Seven-time Grand Slam

Seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams bested a player less than half her age on Monday in a classic performance in the first round of the Auckland Classic.

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Playing her first match in four months, the 42-year-old unearthed some trademark power to notch her first win in over a year, adding another footnote to a professional career that has spanned a 27 season.

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The hour-long rain worked out for Williams, who resumed in style to beat fellow American Katie Volynets 7-6 (7/4), 6-2.

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Volynets, who turned 21 on New Year’s Eve, was leading the first set tiebreaker when play was suspended, but faded in a match that lasted late into the night.

The former world number 1 is using this week to prepare for her 25th tournament at the Australian Open, having accepted a wild card entry to tournaments in Auckland and Melbourne.

She admitted that the stoppage worked in her favor, although she didn’t feel that way at the time.

“It’s hard when you’re excited and all of a sudden you have to stop,” said Williams, whose previous match was a first-round loss at the US Open. “I was so angry on the rain break.

My coach could barely speak to me, so I’m going to try to improve my attitude.

Williams has slipped out of the top 1,000 in the rankings, but she showed flashes of her previous class, and some fitness, during the second set against Volynets, ranked 114th.

The tournament is organized for the first time in three years, and the 2020 edition was won by the great retired Serena Williams, the younger sister of Venus.

Williams will face China‘s Zhu Lin in the second round, after she defeated sixth seed American Madison Brengle 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4.

Third seed Canadian Leylah Fernandez pulled off a quick win, dropping just 14 points in a 6-1, 6-1 defeat of 15-year-old Czech wildcard Brenda Fruhvirtova.

Coco Gauff, the top seed in the United States and No. 7 in the world, opens her season on Tuesday.

Also in action are three former Grand Slam winners: Britain’s Emma Raducanu and American pair Sloane Stephens and Sofia Kenin.

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