Venus Williams knocks out Serena, Wozniacki marches on
INDIAN WELLS – Agence France-Presse
Serena Williams’ return to the WTA Tour came to an abrupt end March 12 as she crashed out of Indian Wells with a 6-3, 6-4 loss to her sister Venus.
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 showdown.
It was the first meeting between the 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.
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.”
The 10th seeded Venus moves on to the round of 16 where she will face Anastasija Sevastova, who defeated 12th seeded Julia Georges 6-3, 6-3.
It is rare for the Williams sisters to play this early in a tournament and the earliest they have faced each other since their first encounter at the Australian Open in 1998.
They arrived outside the stadium together on a golf cart then walked through the tunnel with Serena entering the court first, as many in the crowd stood and cheered.
Venus blasted six aces but had eight double faults in the one hour 26 minute main stadium match in front of a crowd of about 13,000.
Serena is still shaking off the rust after the long layoff as she hit four aces but had her serve broken four times.
“I just have a long way to go,” Serena said.
Elsewhere, Australian Open champ Caroline Wozniacki benefited from a challenge call in the final game en route to defeating Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.
Wozniacki silenced the critics earlier this year when she claimed her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, becoming the first Danish woman to win a major.
The 27-year-old world No. 2 Wozniacki moves on to the fourth round where she will face 20th seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina, who surprised reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-3.
“I managed to get my feet going more, and to start playing more steady, and that paid off today,” said Wozniacki.