Former world No. 1 Venus Williams is scheduled to make her return to the professional circuit on Monday afternoon, as she meets Germany’s Annika Beck. This is the first time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, and will likely be a tighter contest than it may appear on paper.
Williams began her season by reaching the finals in Auckland. She would take it one step further in Dubai, where she would win her third title at the event, extending her undefeated streak to 15-0. However, since winning in Dubai at the end of February, the American has played only two tournaments, losing in the last 16 in both Miami and Charleston before withdrawing from Kuala Lumpur to recover from a strep throat infection. She followed up by withdrawing from Madrid but now appears to be healthy and prepared for the Rome Open.
Last year the American lost in the opening round of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia to Laura Robson. It was her worst performance at the event since 2000. She has only won the title once back in 1999.
World No. 49 Annika Beck is coming off a first round exit at the Mutual Madrid Open to Magdalena Rybarikova, but will be looking to rebound with an upset victory over Venus Williams in the opening round in Rome. Prior to that, she had worked her way through the qualifying round in Stuttgart but would lose in the opening round to Roberta Vinci. Her best performance this season took place at the very start of the year, when she reached the semi-finals in Shenzhen before losing to Li Na.
This marks the first time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour. While Williams has experienced a career resurgence this season, she is coming off short layoff on the tour and will need a strong performance to ease past Beck.
Prediction: Venus Williams in Three Sets