Venus Williams stepped up her Wimbledon preparations by beating Andrea Petkovic 7-5 5-7 6-3 in the first round of the Aegon International at Eastbourne.
The five-time Wimbledon champion has slipped to number 32 in the world after a run of injuries, but looked in strong form to move past eighth seed Petkovic.
Williams, 31 this week, grew in stature as the match wore on, but did hit three double faults on her way to victory.
She will now face either Ana Ivanovic or Julia Goerges in the second round.
Petkovic was Venus's opponent when she retired from January's Australian Open with a hip injury and the Bosnian showed her class by winning a close second set.
Venus said: “It was definitely an adventure.
“I was falling down every other point, coming back from such a long layoff, competing against someone who's been playing so well in the last 12 months.
“I was extremely excited to come back with the win.
“More than anything I was just really extremely excited to have the opportunity to play another match.”
Australia was the American's last tournament appearance and the winner of seven Grand Slam singles titles will now be eyeing a final against sister Serena.
British number three Anne Keothavong went out to Croatia's Mirjana Lucic in the final qualifying round.
The 27-year-old Londoner, ranked 110, overcame world number 78 Sorana Cirstea 6-3 6-3 on Centre Court in the second qualifying round, but found Lucic a step too far.
Lucic won 7-5 6-1 to book her place in the main draw.