Venus Williams won her opening-round match in the Australian Open against Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan 6-1, 6-0 in exactly 60 minutes.
Before the match even began, Williams was greeted by extended applause and cheers by fans in Melbourne’s Hisense Arena as the announcer told the crowd, “She’s back and she’s fiery!”
The 32-year-old Williams took control of the match from the very beginning. She served two back-to-back aces over 112 mph, which resulted in a quick 5-1 lead. Williams then broke to win the set in a matter of 31 minutes.
The second set was even quicker. Voskoboeva did not win a single game in the second set, allowing Williams to end the match with a powerful backhand passing shot.
“I don’t think my opponent quite got the hang of — you know, it’s hard to play the first match in a major, first thing of the year, and that can be a lot of pressure.” Williams said. “I did my best to just close it out.”
Monday’s win is Williams’ first Australian Open victory since 2011. She skipped last year’s Open to handle Sjogren’s Syndrome, which affected her immune system and caused years of shortness of breath, fatigue and muscle pain.
Williams became a raw vegan, eating unprocessed, uncooked, organic foods. But Williams has deemed herself as a “cheagan.”
“If it’s on your plate, I might get to cheat. If you’re sitting next to me, good luck. You turn your head once and your food might be gone,” Williams said.
Her new diet has helped decrease inflammation and limited energy-sapping symptoms.
Williams’ health gains allowed her to have the biggest leap among top players in 2012. She began this season outside the Top 100 and finished at No. 24. She also won a gold medal with her sister, Serena, in the doubles competition at the 2012 London Olympics.
Williams is hoping that her resurgence can equate to her 2003 performance at the Australian, where she reached the Open finals, but lost to Serena. This time she is hoping she will win a title, even though Serena is the favorite.
Venus now must prepare for her second-round match against Alize Cornet of France. If she gets past Cornet, she could possibly face No. 2 Maria Sharapova in the third round.
“I love the game and while I’m here, I’m going to go for it,” Williams said.