After making a steady comeback from illness in 2012, former world No.1 Venus Williams is ready to make a major splash in next year’s grand slams.
Williams played just four tournaments in 2011 as she struggled to deal with the energy-sapping symptoms of Sjogren’s Syndrome.
But after returning to the tour in March, the powerful American broke a two-and-a-half year title drought when she won the Luxembourg Open in October.
The other highlight was her Olympic gold triumph in London, where she teamed with sister Serena Williams to win the doubles.
Venus kicked off her Australian Open preparations on Sunday with a fighting 4-6 6-2 6-3 victory over South Africa’s Chanelle Scheepers at the Hopman Cup.
South African Kevin Anderson upset world No.14 John Isner 7-6 (7-0) 7-6 (7-5) in the men’s singles rubber, but the US won the tie 2-1 after prevailing 6-3 6-2 in the mixed doubles.
Williams failed to make it past the second round of a major this year, and the five-times Wimbledon champion is eager to make more of an impact at the big tournaments in 2013.
“This year was so awesome for me, winning a tournament and getting to the Olympics and getting a gold,” said Williams, who improved her ranking from 134th to 24th in 2012.
“I was extremely happy, and moved up quite a few spots.
“This year is just about building on it and continuing to play deep into the draws and putting myself in positions to play well deep into the tournaments.
“I try to be positive and tell myself I’m the best now. It doesn’t happen every time, but you’ve got to have that mind frame.”
Williams dealt well with Perth’s 36C heat on Sunday, unleashing 44 winners to 12 against Scheepers despite her black outfit not helping her bid to stay cool.
“I guess the roof was closed yesterday. So I was not ready. But I’m ready now,” she said with a laugh.
Isner praised Williams for helping the second-seeded US post victory over seventh-ranked South Africa.
“Her back must be hurting from carrying me today,” Isner said after the mixed doubles triumph.