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By Chris Oddo | Monday March 12, 2018

 
Venus Williams

Venus Williams hit a speed bump near the finish line but managed to finish off her sister in straight sets to book a spot in the round of 16 at Indian Wells.

Photo Source: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images North America

Venus Williams won the 29th edition of the Williams rivalry, defeating her sister Serena 6-3, 6-4 to book her spot in the round of 16 at Indian Wells for the first time since 2001.

More: Federer Schools Krajinovic, Reaches R16 at BNP Paribas Open

Williams relied on big body serves and an aggressive posture on return for much of the night, and looked to be cruising to victory with a 6-3, 3-0 lead in the second set when turbulence came in the form of a sister on a mission.

Though she may not be match tough, having not played a tour-level match in 13 months prior to this week, Serena Williams can never be counted out. She drew upon her champion’s will to battle her way back into the match, twice trimming her elder sister’s double-break lead and even saving a match point at 2-5, 30-40 down before earning a break point for 5-all in the second set as Venus started to crack under the pressure of her determined sister.

But eventually Venus drew upon big serves to wiggle her way out of trouble and earned a second match point, which she capitalized on.


"I'm just lucky that I've played more matches than her right now," Venus said with a smile in an on-court interview with Andrew Krazny after the match.

The elder Williams struggled to dominate on serve over the course of the course of the hour and 26-minute afffair. She won just 31 of 61 points on serve and was broken four times from eight break points faced.

But even in defeat there are many positives that the 23-time major champion can take from her return to tennis after a complicated pregnancy that prolonged her stay away from the game. First, she stayed healthy. Second, she won two matches and did not look to be very far from the invincible form that she was in when she last met her sister, in the 2017 Australian Open final.

In her 37-year-old sister, the No.8 seed at Indian Wells, Serena simply couldn't handle the player she has always considered to be her stiffest competition.


“I think this is the best she's played in a while,” Serena said after the match. “She didn't make a lot of errors. She served very consistently. You know, she just did everything great. For her, I think it was a really good match.” Venus Williams improves to 12-17 against her younger sister lifetime, and 10-2 when she wins the first set.

She will move on to face Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia in the next round.

As for Serena, she will regroup with her team and get ready to continue her comeback at the Miami Open.

“It was definitely, for me, it was a good match,” Serena told reporters after the match. “You know, it wasn't very easy, obviously. It was good to play that and try to get in the rhythm and get into the swing again.”


 

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