LAGOS, Nigeria – After months of injuries and illnesses, Venus Williams was all smiles as she interrupted a break during an exhibition match with her sister Serena to shake her hips to a Nigerian pop song.
And after winning 6-4, 7-5 on Friday, she offered a prediction for the future.
"For me to get a win against Serena, it means 2013 is going to be a great year," Venus said to cheers from the crowd at Lagos Lawn Tennis Club.
Despite 91-degree heat that felt like 101 on the clay court, Venus appeared loose during play, at one point dancing at an intermission to the song "Oliver Twist" by Nigerian singer D'banj.
She also playfully teased her sister, who had repeated trouble on her serve toss looking into the sun.
Diagnosed last year with an autoimmune disease that causes fatigue, Venus struggled all year and was ranked No. 24. However, she won the Luxembourg Open on Oct. 21, her first WTA win in more than two years.
Serena, ranked No. 3 and coming off a win at the WTA Championships in Istanbul last week, grew frustrated with her play. She batted a tennis ball against the back wall in anger at one point and cried out over poor volleys.
Several times, she stopped to kneel on the clay and press her head against her tennis racket. However, the loose, talkative crowd repeatedly got her attention. At one point, she did a double-take and laughed when she saw a man holding up a sign that read: "I am the Nigerian husband Serena never had."
"We've worked so hard this year; Venus has worked so hard," Serena said. "We hope to keep this momentum going into next year."
The sisters move on to South Africa as part of their two-nation tour.
Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP