Venus readies for Eastbourne after injury layoff

By the Associated Press | June 11, 2011 | 12:59 PM EDT

EASTBOURNE, England (AP) — Venus Williams says she is excited to "just be playing any first-round match anywhere" after what she describes as the toughest injury layoff of her career.

The 30-year-old, five-time Wimbledon champion will play her first match since January at the Eastbourne grass-court tournament next week after recovering from a hip injury.

She will be joined in Eastbourne by her sister Serena, who hasn't played since winning Wimbledon nearly a year ago. Serena Williams has been sidelined because of foot surgery and blood clots in her lung.

Venus will play Andrea Petkovic in the first round. Petkovic was her opponent when she had to retire from a third-round match at the Australian Open.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion says, "I can't believe I finally made it back. It's been a very long road."