Exemplifying one of sports history’s greatest sibling rivalries, a tennis match between sisters Serena and Venus Williams is always a highly anticipated event.
In their latest bout on Monday night, it was older sister Venus who walked away victorious in the third round of the Indian Wells Masters tournament (also known as the BNP Paribas Opening), defeating Serena 6-3, 6-4.
The win is Venus’ first against her sister since 2014 and marks the pair’s 29th meet-up altogether. It was also a big comeback moment for Serena, who returned to the WTA Tour after a 14-month stint to focus on her personal life. During her hiatus, she gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. on Sept. 1 and not long after married Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, on Nov. 16.
Prior to Monday’s Indian Wells event, Venus and Serena’s most recent contest against each other was last year’s Australian Open final. Serena — who was pregnant at the time — ended up winning the match, earning the Nike athlete her 23rd Grand Slam title.
The duo, who both sported Nike sneakers, also had a full-circle moment at this week’s tournament, as the sisters had boycotted Indian Wells for 14 years stemming from a controversial appearance in 2001. Venus and Serena were set to face off at the semifinals that year until Venus withdrew, citing a knee injury, causing dissatisfaction from the crowd. They not only booed Venus and her father in their seats but also booed Serena during her final match against Kim Clijsters, though Williams still came out on top.
The tumultuous history at Indian Wells seems to be firmly in the past now, however. Fans at the event have embraced both sisters, and the tennis stars themselves seem generally unbothered.
“That’s, you know, totally gone out of my mind. First of all, 17 years ago seems like forever ago,” said Serena.
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