Sabine Lisicki experienced the highest of tennis highs two years ago at the Family Circle Cup, beating Caroline Wozniacki to capture her first and only WTA singles title at the age of 19.
Lisicki eventually climbed to No. 22 in the rankings, but ankle injuries have plagued the young German's bid to get to the top of the tennis world. Lisicki suffered a severe ankle sprain in the 2009 U.S. Open and suffered ankle injuries last year that kept her from defending her title in Charleston.
On Tuesday, Lisicki was back on Stadium Court and defeated Czech Republic's Renata Voracova, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, in the first round of the Family Circle Cup.
"I came a couple of days ago and I practiced on the center court a couple of times. You know, all the memories just came back right away," said Lisicki, a wild card entry into this year's event. "It was just so amazing to play on that court, to have so many people here. Especially after this terrible morning with lots of rain and chilly weather, it was amazing that so many people came out."
Tuesday's play, originally scheduled to start at 10 a.m., was pushed back two hours because of rain and heavy winds.
Lisicki said she basically had to learn to walk again after being on crutches for six weeks last year.
"The whole process was hard. I never went through something like that," Lisicki said. "That's why this match means so much to me. After all that I went through, that I came back and I won my first match. It just feels amazing to be out there on the court, and having the crowd behind you is even better."
Lisicki said the windy conditions made for a difficult day. In the first set, she was serving around 120 mph, but she throttled back as the match continued.
"In this wind, you cannot play perfect. That's impossible. I missed too many balls. Later on I found a way to win points. That was the first step, and then to win games. I turned it around," Lisicki said.
"When you throw the ball and the ball is basically moving (side to side), you just cannot hit it as hard because you don't have that control. I had to adjust, and the most important thing was that I did it and I won the match. That's all that counts."
Considering all she has been through, Lisicki said at this point, ranked No. 182 in the world, she isn't thinking about winning the tournament.
"Every single match is a step in the right direction," she said. "The more I play, the better it is. Last week in Miami (where she made it to the round of 32 before falling to No. 9-ranked Maria Sharapova) was a huge step. I was working really, really hard and I felt like I was playing well. But I wasn't getting the results in the tournaments yet. So Miami was definitely a big, big confidence boost for me."