Former world number one Serena Williams remarked that she has "a long way to go" in her comeback bid after suffering defeat at the hands of sister Venus at Indian Wells, on Monday. "It wasn't easy, obviously," Serena said. "It was good to play and try to get in the rhythm and get into the swing again."
Venus Williams handed a straight-set defeated to her younger sister and 23 Grand Slam winner Serena in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in California. The sisters were meeting for the 29th time in their illustrious decades-long career.
"I really abhor every time we play, but I do enjoy the battle when I'm out there," Serena commented last weekend. "It's just afterwards I don't like it as much."
It was the sisters' earliest meeting in a tournament since the second round of the 1998 Australian Open. Serena leads Venus in their head-to-head 17-12 overall, although Venus has now leveled up WTA Tour meetings at 7-7.
“She’s going to be speeding back to the seedings and to winning tournaments sooner than later," Venus said. "That’s all I see. I think that’s what everybody sees.”
Serena was downed 3-6, 4-6 in her third professional match back on the circuit after giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Ohanian Jr. Serena had won eight of their previous nine meetings, but Venus managed to dispatch her in a respectable hour-and-a-half, in a match filled with blistering serves and returns from both ends of the court.
“She didn’t make a lot of errors. She served very consistently. You know, she just did everything great. At least they’re in the margin,” Serena said. “I’m getting there. It’s not exactly where I want to be, but, I mean, I’ll get there eventually.”
This was the Williamses first meeting in the tournament. Seventeen years ago they stirred controversy when the sisters were scheduled to meet in the semi-finals of the tournament, but Venus withdrew, automatically handing Serena a walkover.
Fans accused the siblings and their father Richard of being duplicitous, leading to Serena being booed during the final against Kim Clijsters.
“I think my forehand is bigger than ever. Still fast. Still just trying to — honestly, it’s always about improvement,” Venus said of her game performance.
According to BBC, more than 10,000 fans gathered into the arena to watch the Williams sisters.
"It's good that I don't have to say that this is the best tennis I have ever played and I lost. My room for improvement is incredible," Serena said. "So I have just got to keep saying at each tournament that my goal is just to be better than the last. I don't want to go backwards."
Following the 14-month layoff, Serena is currently unseeded while Venus is ranked eighth.
Venus will face Anastasija Sevastova in the fourth round.