(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Memphis, TN (AP) - Venus Williams capped her first tournament back from an injured left wrist in winning fashion Saturday night, beating top-seeded Shahar Peer of Israel 6-1, 6-1 in the Cellular South Cup.
This event is merely a Tier III tournament and far below her last victory at Wimbledon in 2005, her fifth Grand Slam. But her 34th career title came in her first tournament since losing in the second round at Luxembourg last October.
"I'm so excited," Williams said.
"I feel like I know I can play this kind of tennis. ... I didn't feel like I was in position to move my feet in any of the first four rounds. Today I knew I had to move. That commitment to really be in position to move, I think made a huge, huge difference."
The 26-year-old Williams had hoped to return to competitive tennis at the Australian Open last month, won by her sister, Serena. But she had to pull out of that event and last week's tournament in Belgium because of her wrist.
She came to Memphis where the winner's check is a mere $28,000 to start working the rust out of her game, knowing that matches that count mean much more than practice. She came in ranked 54th after a year in which she finished outside the Top 15 for the first time in nine years.
That doesn't mean she didn't come to win in a year she plans to be ranked in the top 16 by the French Open.
"Not to injure something in the first week back was the main goal," Williams said.
She had not played Peer before, but she watched her sister beat the 19-year-old Israeli in three sets in the Australian Open quarterfinals last month. She easily overpowered her with aces that reached as high as 125 mph and strong forehands and backhands.
Peer has won three titles and came in ranked 17th in the world. But this was only her 22nd event at this level or higher, and Williams' experience with five Grand Slam titles and six Tier I championships to her credit showed.
"I didn't see her playing like this the whole week," Peer said. "She just made so many winners, and I did a lot of unforced. It was going both ways. I wasn't playing not good, and she was playing good. That's why I lost so easy."