Former top ranked players Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters made triumphant returns to the WTA after long layoffs with victories on Wednesday at the WTA and ATP Miami hardcourt tournament.

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams, who has not played a WTA event since pulling out of last year's U.S. Open, defeated Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-0, 6-3 in 77 minutes.

“It was great to be back out there," Williams said.

“It was definitely a bit nerve-wracking... but I was able to get a great start and settle in and play well against a really difficult opponent. It was definitely an ideal start.”

Williams announced at last year's U.S. Open she had been diagnosed with the auto-immune disorder Sjogren syndrome, an illness that saps her energy and causes pain in her joints.

Belgium's Clijsters, playing for the first time since her Australian Open semifinal loss to World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, rallied to eliminate Australia's Jarmila Gajdosova 4-6, 6-1, 6-0.

“It's always tough to get that first match rhythm under your belt,” Clijsters said. “When it comes down to my game I felt I wasn't quite going through my shots as I should have.

“I was just trying to find that rhythm, but on the other hand maybe forgetting to still play aggressive tennis. But as I started to feel more comfortable with the conditions and being in a match situation again I was hitting better, and that definitely showed in the second and third sets.”

Williams advanced to a second-round match against Czech third seed, and Wimbledon champion, Petra Kvitova, who had a first-round bye, while next up for Clijsters is her first match against Germany's 14th-seeded Julia Goerges. Kvitova had defeated Williams in 2008 in their only prior match.

First round matches began in the men's draw with Chile's Fernando Gonzalez making his ATP farewell as Frenchman Nicolas Mahut defeated him 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(3).

Gonzalez last month announced his decision to retire after this event.

Nikolay Davydenko outlasted James Blake 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, to book a second-round date with 10th seed John Isner.

Important results:

Men's singles: First round: Robin Haase bt Marinko Matosevic 6-3, 6-4; Alejandro Falla bt Denis Istomin 6-1, 2-1, retd.; Lukas Rosol bt Michael Llodra 6-4, 7-6(6); Nikolay Davydenko bt James Blake 4-6, 6-4, 6-4; Tommy Haas bt Guillaume Rufin 6-4, 6-4; Xavier Malisse bt Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6(3), 6-3; Arnaud Clement bt Dudi Sela 6-3, 6-3; Roberto Bautista-Agut bt Andreas Seppi 6-3, 1-6, 6-3; David Nalbandian bt Steve Darcis 6-4, 7-6(0); Nicolas Mahut bt Fernando Gonzalez 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(3).

Women's singles: First round: Kim Clijsters bt Jarmila Gajdosova 4-6, 6-1, 6-0; Sofia Arvidsson bt Gisela Dulko 6-4, 7-5; Iveta Benesova bt Elena Vesnina 7-6(5), 6-1; Shahar Peer bt Alize Cornet 6-4, 6-2; Valeria Savinykh bt Klara Zakopalova 6-3, 7-5; Venus Williams bt Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-0, 6-3; Vania King bt Laura Pous-Tio 6-2, 7-6(12); Kateryna Bondarenko bt Urszula Radwanska 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4; Christina McHale bt Galina Voskoboeva 6-3, 6-4. — AFP

More In: SPORT | Today's Paper