Venus beats Ser­ena in 3rdround at In­dian Wells Paribas Open play

Manteca Bulletin - - Sports -

IN­DIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — Venus Wil­liams de­feated younger sis­ter Ser­ena 6-3, 6-4 in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Mon­day night, her first win in the sib­ling ri­valry since 2014.

It was the sis­ters’ ear­li­est meet­ing since a 17-year-old Venus beat 16-year-old Ser­ena in the sec­ond round of the 1998 Aus­tralian Open. They played Mon­day night for the first time since last year’s Aus­tralian Open fi­nal, when a preg­nant Ser­ena won her 23rd Grand Slam ti­tle.

Venus closed out the 1 ½-hour match on her sec­ond match point when Ser­ena’s fore­hand ser­vice re­turn sailed long. It was one of Ser­ena’s 41 un­forced er­rors, in­clud­ing 17 on the fore­hand side.

“I’m just lucky that I’ve played more matches than her right now,” Venus said on court af­ter­ward. “She just came roar­ing back.

I had chances for the match to be over, but it wasn’t.”

Venus broke Ser­ena at love in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead in the first set. She em­phat­i­cally closed out the 36-minute set with back-to­back aces that clocked 108 mph and 120 mph.

“I def­i­nitely know her well, but she def­i­nitely played a lit­tle bit bet­ter than she nor­mally does,” Ser­ena said. “She served very con­sis­tently. She just did every­thing great.”

Venus raced out to leads of 3-0 and 5-2 in the sec­ond set. Ser­ena’s shot went wide to set up her sis­ter’s first match point. But Ser­ena cracked a back­hand win­ner down the line for deuce. Venus’ fore­hand was long and she dou­ble-faulted away the game to make it 5-3.

Ser­ena held at 5-4 with an ace and a clean win­ner.

Venus faced two break points in the next game, but got bailed out on Ser­ena’s two con­sec­u­tive fore­hand er­rors to get to deuce. Venus hung on from there to end their 29th meet­ing.

“Miss­ing shots that I never miss, and so close,” Ser­ena said. “At least they’re in the mar­gin. I’m get­ting there. It’s not ex­actly where I want to be, but I’ll get there even­tu­ally.”

Ser­ena still owns a 17-12 ad­van­tage over­all, al­though Venus evened their WTA Tour head-to-head meet­ings at 7-7.

“I re­ally ab­hor ev­ery time we play, but I do en­joy the bat­tle when I’m out there,” Ser­ena said last week­end. “It’s just af­ter­wards I don’t like it as much.”

It was ob­vi­ous at the net when they greeted each other with a one-arm hug and nei­ther smiled. Venus did her usual vic­tory pirou­ette, but still didn’t smile.

A stone- faced Ser­ena ex­ited the court to cheers, point­ing her right in­dex fin­ger in the air.

Ser­ena was back on the WTA Tour for the first time since end­ing a 14-month ab­sence dur­ing which she gave birth to daugh­ter Alexis Jr. and mar­ried Red­dit co­founder Alexis Oha­nian, who sat courtside.

“It’s good that I don’t have to say that this is the best ten­nis I have ever played and I lost,” Ser­ena said. “My room for im­prove­ment is in­cred­i­ble.”

Typ­i­cally, the sis­ters wouldn’t meet un­til the later rounds of a tour­na­ment. But 36- year- old Ser­ena was unseeded in this event. Venus, 37, is seeded eighth.

Ser­ena won her first two matches, while Venus re­ceived a first-round bye and won her open­ing match.

The In­dian Wells match was 17 years in the mak­ing.

The sis­ters were sup­posed to play each other in the desert in 2001. A packed sta­dium awaited their semi­fi­nal but shortly be­fore the match was to be­gin Venus with­drew with a right knee in­jury.

Ser­ena went on to play Kim Cli­jsters in the fi­nal. Venus and her fa­ther Richard were greeted with boos as they made their way to their seats, with some fans be­liev­ing Richard had been be­hind Venus’ with­drawal.

Richard Wil­liams said he heard racial slurs from the crowd and he paused to shake his fist at them. Ser­ena was booed through­out the fi­nal be­fore she beat Cli­jsters in three sets for her sec­ond ti­tle in the desert.

Af­ter that, the sis­ters boy­cotted In­dian Wells for 14 years. Ser­ena came back in 2015 only to with­draw with a knee in­jury be­fore her semi­fi­nal, and Venus fol­lowed the next year.

Both sis­ters have been greeted warmly by fans each time they’ve played here since that tur­bu­lent time.

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