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Venus tops Serena in first event back

Trenton Jocz



Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

One would think losing to a loved one could soften the blow of defeat, especially coming off a year out of action, but Serena Williams is wired differently.

Serena’s first full tournament back from a complicated and dangerous pregnancy came to an end on Monday night, as she lost 6-3, 6-4 to her sister Venus in the third round of Indian Wells.

Venus hadn’t beaten Serena since the summer of 2014 in Canada, but she had to be considered the favorite in this one given the rustiness of her younger sister’s game. Despite some nerviness and nearly squandering a double break lead in the second set, Venus closed it out what was a relatively routine victory.

Before playing official singles matches, Serena’s return consisted of an exhibition loss in the offseason to Jelena Ostapenko, a Davis Cup doubles loss in February with Venus and a moderate showing at a Tiebreak Tens exhibition last week in New York. As she heads to Miami, she’ll leave with a couple wins under her belt, having beaten Zarina Diyas in the first round and Kiki Bertens in the second round, both in competitive straight set matches.

Despite the positive progress, Serena displayed her trademark hunger and disdain for losing.

“I’m missing shots that I never miss,” she said. “I’m in the margin, at least. I’m not where I’m going to be, but I’ll get there eventually…¬†These three matches made me understand what I need to work on. Maybe I’ll write everything down and rank them so that I know what to work on first going into Miami.”

Of her sister, Serena said:

“She definitely played a little bit better than she normally plays.”

Meanwhile, Venus had some fun with interviewer Andrew Krasny, playfully reminding him that it’s not a great idea to bring up a woman’s age:

Venus plays crafty Anastasija Sevastova on Tuesday for a spot in the quarterfinals.