It was only a sisterly exhibition in Colombia, but it was good news nonetheless to see Venus Williams back on a tennis court. The 31-year-old stepped back onto the court this weekend for her first (unofficial) match since withdrawing from the U.S. Open in August due to a recently-diagnosed autoimmune disorder.
Venus defeated her sister Serena 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the exhibition in Medellin. It was her first match since winning in the first round of the year's final Grand Slam.
The elder Williams finished the WTA season ranked No. 104, which is actually pretty impressive considering she only played 11 matches in four tournaments during the season. She told an Italian newspaper she hopes to play a full schedule in 2012, beginning in January in Auckland, New Zealand. Playing in the London Olympics is one of her biggest goals.
She says she's coping with Sjogren's syndrome well through training and diet.
"I did a lot of medical therapy and a serious evaluation of my diet to understand which foods help control the symptoms better. And that's why I've completely changed my diet and filled it with a lot of vegetables. In the meantime, I've continued to keep myself fit with tennis and in the gym. I'm very confident in my progress. [...]
[...] Within the next 12 months, I'm expecting to get back to the top of the rankings in singles and doubles. I want to play all year long. I've still got a lot of work to do but it doesn't scare me — I'm used to it."
Venus and Serena will play a doubles match against Italians Francesca Schiavone and Flavia Pennetta on Dec. 3 in Milan.