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Venus Williams knocks out Serena


Venus Williams knocks out Serena

Serena Williams' return to the WTA Tour came to an abrupt end Monday (Mar 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.

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. Despite the loss Serena still leads their career series 17-12.

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 Sep 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.

It brought closure to the once testy relationship between Indian Wells and the sisters who hail from the Los Angeles suburb of Compton. Serena returned to the tournament in 2015 and Venus a year later.

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.

In other women's third round matches on Monday, French seventh seed Caroline Garcia defeated Australia's Daria Gavrilova 7-5, 6-4.

Danielle Collins also won her third round match, defeating Sofya Zhuk of Russia 6-4, 6-4.

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