Wasps' outside half Andy Goode was the hero as his virtuoso performance condemned his former side Leicester to defeat at Adams Park.
Goode kicked 17 points including two crucial drop goals in the second half when his side were under pressure and before the interval it was his quick thinking that created the only try of the game for Christian Wade.
The game was fiercely contested throughout but fell far short of last season's corresponding fixture when Wasps won a classic game 35-29.
Wasps were still deserved winners. Apart from Goode's decisive contribution they showed more creativity with Elliot Daly and Joe Simpson, their most enterprising runners.
kicking all his side's points, had a miserable afternoon at fly half, failing to exercise any control in marked contrast to the efforts of Goode.
Centre Dan Bowden did provide some neat touches but he was a lone figure as the Tigers' backs provided no spark.
The Tigers had one real chance to turn the game in their favour when Carlo Festuccia was sin-binned early in the second half but poor handling and decision making at that point cost them.
Joe Launchbury was their only England absentee with James Haskell able to return on the bench.
debuts while director of rugby Richard Cockerill was able to resume his match-day duties after serving a nine-match touchline ban.
Leicester had two early opportunities for points but Williams was wide with a straightforward penalty attempt and then short and wide with a poor effort from inside his own half.
With their first real attack, Wasps scored an excellent try to take the lead after nine minutes. Tigers were penalised on halfway with Goode quickly taking the free kick to catch the visitors napping. The outside half burst through the defence to gain a platform in the opposition 22; the ball was swiftly recycled for Chris Bell to produce a delightful pass allowing Wade a simple run in.
Goode, who has had two stints at Leicester, converted but Williams reduced the arrears with his first successful penalty to leave Wasps 7-3 ahead at the end of the first quarter.
Two penalties from Goode, nullified by two from Williams kept the game in the balance as Wasps maintained their four point lead at the interval which was a fair reflection of the first half.
After the restart, the concession of two early penalties by the hosts allowed Tigers their best period of the match.
Leicester exerted considerable pressure forcing Wasps into further offences which resulted in their hooker Carlo Festuccia being yellow-carded.
Tigers declined kickable penalties in search of a vital touchdown but they badly lacked control and this coupled with some heroic defence from Wasps allowed the home side to keep their line intact until Festuccia's return.
Two drop goals from Goode in quick succession were the first scores of the second half as Wasps relieved the pressure and began to take advantage of the substantial wind in their favour.
Goode missed a with a long range penalty which would have put Wasps out of sight before Williams kicked his fourth penalty with 12 minutes remaining. This left Tigers only seven points adrift but they could make no further inroads and it was left to Goode to hammer over a huge penalty from inside his own half to deprive Tigers of a valuable bonus point.