Australian Open - Women: Henin battles through

Mon, 17 Jan 12:05:00 2011

Former world number one Justine Henin got her Australian Open campaign off to a rocky start, being forced to recover from a set down before reaching the second round.

- 0

Henin, the losing finalist when Serena Williams claimed her fifth title in Melbourne last year, survived a tricky encounter against big-hitting Indian Sania Mirza to go through 5-7 6-3 6-1 despite 33 unforced errors.

Venus Williams, the women's fourth seed, made a winning return after four months out injured with a 6-3 6-2 win over Sara Errani of Italy.

"It's been so long," said the 30-year-old, who is hoping to add a first Australian Open crown to her seven Grand Slam titles.

"It definitely felt good today to go out there and play pretty clean tennis."

Venus is flying the family flag solo this year with her sister Serena, the 2010 champion, still unable to play after stepping on glass in a Munich restaurant last year.

Another two women hoping to contend, top seed Caroline Wozniacki and former champion Maria Sharapova, won the first two matches on centre court.

Dane Wozniacki claimed a hard-fought 6-3 6-4 win over Argentine Gisela Dulko, while Sharapova overcame a nervy start to beat Tamarine Tanasugarn 6-1 6-3 for her first Australian Open victory since she won her last major title here in 2008.

"I was definitely a little bit nervous in the beginning," said the 23-year-old, who lost to fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko in the first round last year after missing 2009 through injury.

"You know, last year I played first match on centre (court) and, I lost. So I was kind of like, I don't want this to happen again this year."

French Open champion Francesca Schiavone also showed plenty of grit as she came back from a set down to win her opening encounter against Spain's Arantxa Parra Santonja 6-7 6-2 6-4.

Australian Open - Women -

Reuters

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account