Juliana makes successful comeback to FIVB World Tour
Fuzhou, China, April 27, 2014 - Brazil's Juliana Felisberta Da Silva made a successful comeback to the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour when she and new partner Maria Antonelli finished runners-up at the Fuzhou Open, this season's first event, in China, on Sunday.
Juliana's (right) silver medal was her 83rd World Tour medal overall, joining her former partner Larissa in third place on the overall individual medal count|
Juliana played domestically in 2013 following the retirement of her legendary teammate Larissa Franca with whom she won an unprecedented seven FIVB World Tour season point championships between 2005 and 2012 and the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships.
She and Antonelli, playing together on the World Tour for the first time, had to make it to the Main Draw through the Qualification Tournament, before losing to Kerri Walsh and April Ross from USA 2-0 (21-11, 21-18) in the final.
"I sat out for one year, and I need a lot to play and I hope to play well," said Juliana.
Juliana paid tribute to her new partner, saying she has given her a lot of courage on court.
"It's difficult at this tournament, because I had to start to play from the qualification. Sometimes we had big problems. But when I look back at Maria, she always says 'Let's go, and believe it'. We made it to the final, I feel so proud of us," said the 30-year-old veteran.
Walsh welcomed the return of the Brazilian iconic beach volleyball player.
"This Tour missed her and I missed her so much. She's been so inspirational for me. She is a great competitor. Juliana and Maria are going be a great team," said Walsh.
But, unlike the 35-year-old American, who has vowed to win an unprecedented fourth Olympic gold in Rio de Janerio in 2016, Juliana refused to set a goal for the biggest sporting event ever to be held in her home country.
"Right now I and Maria just want to make progress step by step. My next focus is the Shanghai Grand Slam," she said.
Juliana is the third most successful athlete in women's World Tour history with 45 gold (in addition to 21 silver and 17 bronze medals) behind Walsh, who moved into clear No. 1 with the Fuzhou Open her 47th gold medal (in addition to 15 silver and seven bronze) and Juliana's former partner Larissa (46 gold, 20 silver and 17 bronze).
The Fuzhou Open is the first of 11 Open events on the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, which also includes 10 Grand Slams and an inaugural Grand Slam final.
The Shanghai Grand Slam is the next tournament on the calendar running from April 29 to May 4.
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