Venus Williams and Vera Zvonareva Glad to Be in Charleston: A Fan’s View

Two veterans of the WTA Tour are back at the Family Circle Cup in 2012 after missing it last year for injuries.

Venus Williams serves out the match, Tuesday in Charleston Photo by: Rick Limpert

It's a favorite event of many players on the tour and while the senior member of the Williams' tennis playing siblings has been coming to the South Carolina coast since 2004, Zvonareva first came to Charleston in 2003. It is a welcome sight to have these familiar faces in the draw at one of the most prestigious women's tournaments in the world.

Venus faced a tough opening round opponent in Iveta Benesova. After feeling Benesova out during the initial stages of the match, she relied on her experience to win the big points and the match going away. The 6-4, 6-3 win may look easy on the surface, but it was close throughout.

"My serve felt good today, thank God for it today," Venus said following the match.

Still feeling the effects of the Sjogren's Syndrome she was diagnosed with last summer, I wondered if she is mindful of playing quicker points to conserve on energy.

"You know on this surface I need to hit some balls and get a feel for this court," she explained. "I'll have to hit a lot of balls tomorrow (against Jankovic) and be patient."

Still, the smile plastered on her face shows how much she appreciates the fans and the environment in Charleston. "Miami was a whirlwind, but here I did feel a lot more calm," she added.

Zvonareva is a fan favorite and regular at this event, but was forced to sit out last year with injuries. She's happy to be on familiar soil, or should I say, clay.

The Russian upped her record at the Family Circle Cup to 21-9 by defeating Kateryna Bondarenko 6-1, 6-1 in a match that lasted under one hour.

With a day off on Wednesday, Zvonareva will rest and fine tune the rest of her game.

One thing that appears good for the Russian is her attitude. She admitted she watches other players and appreciates those with good attitudes on and off the court.

"I really look up to Nadal," she told reporters. "He's got a great attitude and he's a great fighter and the way he fights inspires a lot of players."

She may not have needed that inspiration today, but it will come in handy the rest of the week as the competition gets tougher and tougher.

At least they are both back in Charleston this year.

Rick Limpert covers sports, technology and events in and around Atlanta. You can follow him on Twitter @RickRoswell as he covers the 2012 Family Circle Cup.

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Updated Wednesday, Apr 4, 2012