Venus Williams returns from four-month layoff

Venus Williams made a successful return from a four-month layoff with a 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 win Monday over eighth-seeded Andrea Petkovic in the first round of the Eastbourne International in Eastbourne, England.

The 30-year-old Williams was clearly rusty. She began the match with two double faults and made a series of unforced errors, particularly off the forehand side.

But the five-time Wimbledon champion won with her grass-court experience and aggressive play. She wasted three match points in the final game before finally taking it when Petkovic hit a forehand wide.

Petkovic was on the other side of the net when Williams had to retire from her last match at the Australian Open in January with a hip injury.

AEGON CLASSIC: Sabine Lisicki beat fourth-seeded Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-2 to win the final in Birmingham, England.

QUEEN’S CLUB: Andy Murray won his first title of the season, beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4 in London.

Monday’s final was played a day late because of rain.

UNICEF OPEN: Top-seeded Kim Clijsters beat Monica Niculescu 7-5, 7-5 in the first round in Den Bosch, Netherlands.

In the men’s tournament, top-seeded Nicolas Almagro lost to Michael Berrer 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4. Marcos Baghdatis reached the second round, beating Arnaud Clement 7-6 (4), 6-3.


NHL: The Phoenix Coyotes signed former Calgary Flames head coach Jim Playfair to a multiyear contract as associate coach.

Playfair has been with the Flames’ organization for the past 11 seasons.

He joins Coach Dave Tippett’s staff as a replacement for Ulf Samuelsson, who resigned to become a head coach of the MODO team in the Swedish Elite League.


NASCAR: Kyle Busch was docked six points and his crew chief fined $25,000 because his car failed post-race inspection at Pocono Raceway.

The No. 18 Toyota was found to be too low during NASCAR’s inspection Sunday.

NASCAR responded Monday by docking Busch six driver points and car owner Joe Gibbs six owner points.

Crew chief Dave Rogers received the fine.

Busch finished third in the race. Despite the penalty, he remains fifth in the standings, but he now trails leader Carl Edwards by 31 points.

Joe Gibbs Racing said in a statement it would not appeal the penalty.


EASTERN LEAGUE: Portland Sea Dogs right-handed starting pitcher Stephen Fife was named Pitcher of the Week for June 6-12.

Fife earned a win in his only start last week, striking out seven batters while taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning of a 6-0 win against Richmond.

NECBL: Ryan Coppinger scored on an RBI single by Paul Kronenfeld with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift the Sanford Mainers (1-1) to a 1-0 win over the Mystic Schooners (0-2) at Goodall Park in Sanford.


WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: University of Maine Coach Richard Barron hired Jill Poe as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. She comes to Maine with over 17 years of experience in Division I, spending the 2010 season as the director of video services and scouting for East Carolina University.


PREMIER LEAGUE: Manchester United moved to strengthen its defense after agreeing to sign Phil Jones from Blackburn as its first offseason recruit.

United said that the 19-year-old Englishman will sign a five-year deal after returning from the European Under-21 Championship.

Jones will face stiff competition for a spot in central defense from Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling.