Venus Williams’ comeback continues at Family Circle Cup

Grace Beahm/Staff Venus Williams plays Jelena Jankovic Wednesday April 4, 2012 at the Family Circle Cup.

Venus Williams took a major step in her comeback tonight with a 7-5, 6-0 victory over 17th-ranked Jelena Jankovic in the second round of the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island.

Williams is ranked just 87th in the world as she comes back from a bout with Sjogren’s syndrome, an auto-immune disease that can cause painful joints. Playing for the first time since last year’s U.S. Open, Williams won four matches on hardcourt in Miami before coming to the clay courts of Charleston, where she is 2-0 thus far.

Sabine Lisicki, who won the Family Circle Cup title in 2009, needed three sets to win her opening match in the tournament earlier today.

Lisicki, seeded sixth and ranked 13th in the world, took a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory on Stadium Court over Andrea Hlavackova of Czech Republic, ranked just 124th.

No. 3 seed Marion Bartoli of France also had a struggle, needing three hours for a 6-2, 6-7, 6-4 win over Russian Vera Dushevina. No. 13 seed Nadia Petrova, the 2006 Family Circle Cup champ, also needed three sets to get past American Jill Craybas, 2-6, 7-6, 6-2.

No. 9 seed Lucie Safarova of Czech Republic had a much easier time in a 6-2, 6-0 wipeout of Mirjana Lucic.

Seeded players Polona Hercog and Marina Erakovic advanced in early action today at the Family Circle Cup tennis tournament on Daniel Island.

Hercog, seeded 14th, took a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Varvara Lepchenko of the U.S. on Stadium Court. Hercog, ranked No. 38, is a 21-year-old from Sloevnia.

Erakovic, ranked No. 49, defeated Anna Tatishvili by 7-5, 6-3, to earn a date with American star Serena Williams in the third round. A 24-year-old from New Zealand, Erakovic has never faced Williams, ranked No. 10.

Also today, Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak knocked off Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, 7-6, 6-2.