Indian Wells : Serena Williams’ return to tournament tennis came to an abrupt end 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 match.
The 10th seeded Venus moves on to the round of 16, where she will face either Anastasija Sevastova or 12th seeded Julia Georges.
It was the first meeting between the two 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.
It is rare for the Williams sisters to play this early in a tournament. It is the earliest they have faced each other since their first encounter at the Australian Open in 1998.
The sisters arrived outside the stadium together on a golf cart then walked through the tunnel with Serena entering the court first with many in the crowd standing and cheering.
Venus blasted six aces but had eight double faults in the one hour 26 minutes main stadium match. Serena is still shaking off the rust after the long layoff as she hit four aces but had her serve broken four times.
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 September 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.
But for some it brought closure to the once testy relationship between Indian Wells and the sisters who hail from the Los Angeles suburb of Compton.
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 when she claimed her first Grand Slam title earlier this year 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 either reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens or 20th seed Daria Kasatkina of Russia.
“I managed to get my feet going more, and to start playing more steady, and that paid off today,” said Wozniacki.
Wozniacki challenged a call in the final game when the line judge ruled that Sasnovich’s shot caught the line. Wozniacki asked for a second look and the review showed that the line judge mistakenly called the ball in.
That levelled the score at 30-30 and Wozniacki won two out of the next three points she needed to take the third set and the match in the $16 million joint WTA/ATP hardcourt tournament.
Wozniacki hit two aces and won 64 percent of her first-serve points in the two hour, 17 minute match.
Wozniacki said the court conditions were difficult but she managed to make the adjustments.
“These courts are really difficult to play on. That’s also why you see a lot of upsets,” she said.
“The ball bounces really high and it goes extremely slow.