x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Lisicki gets emotional after Aegon Classic victory

And Serena Williams is geared up on her return from a serious blood clot problem as she prepares "for the rest of the career" and not just Wimbledon.

Sabine Lisicki stretches herself in the final against Daniela Hantuchova.
Sabine Lisicki stretches herself in the final against Daniela Hantuchova.

Serena Williams is not making any promises as she returns to tennis following a year away due to injury and a serious health problem, with the one-time No 1 saying she is just glad to be back in the mix.

"I'm not preparing for today or for Wimbledon, I'm preparing for the rest of my career," said Williams, entered on a wild card into the Wimbledon grass court warm-up tournament at Eastbourne on the English south coast.

Her first round match is today against Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria. "I'm just here to do the best I can and I'm here not to lose. So that's about it," said Williams who now stands 25th in the world after last playing a match when she won Wimbledon last July.

A cut on her foot suffered while exiting a German restaurant just days later ended up requiring two operations, with the 13-time grand slam winner blaming 20 weeks in a walking cast for this year's blood clot problem in her lung which nearly ended her career and threatened her health.

"[Doctors] said I had clots in both lungs, a lot of people die from that because you don't recognise it," Williams said. "I couldn't breathe, I honestly just thought I was out of shape. So I thought I needed to get on the treadmill.

"They said it could have gotten a lot more serious a day later or two days later."

Meanwhile, sister Venus played her first match since January's Australian Open third round when she retired after one game against Andrea Petkovic, also her opponent yesterday She marked her return from an abdominal injury with an impressive 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 victory over the German at Eastbourne.

In Birmingham, Sabine Lisicki, who slipped outside the world's top 200 last year after seven weeks on crutches, beat the fourth-seeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 6-3, 6-2 to win the Aegon Classic yesterday.

The 21-year-old German, whose only previous tour victory was in Charleston in 2007, secured her second career title after the final had been postponed from Sunday due to rain.

Yesterday's success in the grass court event comes a week before the start of Wimbledon, where Lisicki reached the quarter-finals in 2009.

It also confirmed the wisdom of the Wimbledon committee which decided on Sunday to give Lisicki one of two remaining wild cards for the championships.

"I am in disbelief," Lisicki said. "I am shaking. It's an amazing week. At the start of it I never thought I would be standing here today.

"The comeback from injury was so difficult, it means so much to me," she said.

The German only recovered some composure after gently being asked not to drip tears into the Maude Watson trophy, an elegant antique silver bowl.

Looking back at her recovery, Lisicki said: "There were so many doubters, and so much stuff coming from the sidelines that I wouldn't get there.

"So I had this tunnel vision about getting back. I always thought I would."

Lisicki, who was billed as one of the WTA Tour's new young hopes when she reached the verge of the top 20 two years ago, now seems to be close to her level of 2009 and is clearly looking forward to Wimbledon.

"If I hadn't been given the wild card, I would have been playing the qualifying [today] and it will be very helpful to be able to rest for a couple of days instead," she said.