Playing the powerful tennis that brought her 3 Sony Open titles in succession at Crandon Park, Venus Williams made a successful return to the tournament she calls her second home. Williams is playing some marvelous tennis, coming off her massive win in Dubai she has catapulted herself back into the conversation. In Dubai, just a mere 3 weeks ago, Williams turned back the clock and it was like watching the Williams of old; she was light on her feet, explosive off the ground, and never wavering from the task at hand. To say it was quite a sight would not do it any justice, but it was great to see Williams bring that same brand of tennis to the Sony Open, a tournament she has longed to win for quite some time.
Because of her title run in Dubai, Williams was able to rise up the rankings and secure a seed and first round bye; those two aspects are very crucial because the first round bye allows Williams to not expend any extra energy, and the seeding helps Williams to avoid a collision with a highly ranked opponent in the first or second round. When asked about that, Williams said that it was one of her minor goals this year, to be seeded at the Sony Open; mission accomplished!
Williams stepped on to the purple courts for the first times since last year, and she hadn't missed a beat; she played aggressive tennis, charged the net, and relatively solid. Obviously she had her moments where the tennis wasn't as pretty as she may have liked, but to be competing out there with the odds somewhat stacked against her is simply amazing and inspiring because she doesn't need the money, fame, or experience. Williams, along with her little sister Serena Williams (top seed at the Sony Open) could easily retire from tennis and just live out their days and enjoy solitude from all the riches they've secured throughout their lengthy and legendary careers. But her she is, playing at the widely loved tournament on Key Biscayne.
When looking at the stats from Williams' straight sets victory in the second round, it's apparant that she wasn't in full flight, but that she was playing well enough to win without the match getting out of hand. Her serving profile, always up and down, was decent; she was broken twice (once each set), served three aces along with five double faults, and had a first serve percentage of 53% which isn't too bad for Williams. Off the ground, Williams kept her unforced errors down to a manageable number, and of course she raked up the winners; she also broke serve five times, all leading to Williams ultimately racing into the third round.
Heading into the next round, Williams was slated to play the rising star Simona Halep, but Halep withdrew due to illness and now Williams will face Casey Dallecqua of Australia. Williams would be pleased to avoid a difficult match with Halep and instead play someone who she's beaten in their prior meeting and someone who doesn't have the weapons to really threaten her. If Williams were to win that match, she could face Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova and that could be tricky.
Whatever happens with Williams in this tournament from this point on is immaterial because she has surpassed her result from last year and is continuing to rise up the rankings to get back to where she belongs; but to say a deep run at the Sony Open wouldn't be wonderful would be a lie, and let's be quite frank, at the moment it's not far-fetched.