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Venus Williams has ended Serena Williams’ return to tournament tennis as she ousted her in the third round of Indian Wells BNP Paribas Open in two straight sets 6-3, 6-4.
Venus closed out the 29th career meeting between the two on her second match point as Serena sailed a forehand long to end the third round match.
The 10th seeded Venus moves on to the round of 16 where she will face either Anastasija Sevastova or 12th seeded Julia Georges.
It was the first meeting between the two sisters since they clashed in the final of the 2017 Australian Open, which Serena won before taking a 15-month hiatus due to her pregnancy.
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It is rare for the Williams sisters to play this early in a tournament. It is the earliest they have faced each other since their first encounter at the Australian Open in 1998.
The sisters arrived outside the stadium together on a golf cart then walked through the tunnel with Serena entering the court first with many in the crowd standing and cheering.
Venus blasted six aces but had eight double faults in the one hour 26 minutes main stadium match.
Serena is still shaking off the rust after the long layoff as she hit four aces but had her serve broken four times.
This was their first encounter with Venus as an aunt and Serena as a new mother after giving birth to her baby daughter, Alexis Olympia, on September 1.
Venus’s victory also comes 17 years after an ugly booing incident led to a 14-year boycott of the tournament by the sisters.
But for some it brought closure to the once testy relationship between Indian Wells and the sisters who hail from the Los Angeles suburb of Compton.
Said Serena Williams at the end of Monday night’s match: “There’s a silver lining always for me. I have to look forward to the next match and the next time.”
Serena said she is still easing her way back into match fitness.
“It wasn’t very easy, obviously,” she said. “It was good to play and try to get in the rhythm and get into the swing again.
“I can’t really replicate the situation no matter how much I do in practice. I make those shots 10 times out of 10 in practice.
“It’s just the nerves, the anticipation you feel naturally. It’s a little bit of everything that comes in a match that just doesn’t normally happen.”
And sister Venus complemented her: “Her level was super high. It was really difficult to close out the match. She’s going to be winning tournaments sooner than later”