Serena sets up blockbuster clash with Venus

Serena sets up blockbuster clash with Venus

Talking to the audience and press after the game, Williams shared her thoughts over her impressive win against Diyas.

Serena, who had been out of the game because of her daughter's birth last September leads the career head-to-head record over Venus 17-11 as both will be facing each other for the first time since the 2017 Australian Open final.

Defending champion Elena Vesnina dropped the first set before she charged back t o life to overpower American Catherine Bellis 2-6 6-1 6-1.

Serena then took center stage, needing just under two hours to dispatch Bertens, of the Netherlands, 7-6 (7/5), 7-5.

Ekaterina Makarova of Russian Federation led 10th-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-3 when their match was stopped in the opening game of the second set with Kerber holding a break point. "I have such a long way to go", Williams said.

"It definitely felt better than the first round, but I'm still a little rusty". I'm still making errors that I don't normally make. "But I call this a trial run". Williams's absence from tennis, all 404 days of it, all 14 months, did have the benefit of opening up the field, I suppose, but what a delight for the sport that she's back. "I'm really happy about that".

Serena - a two-time champion at Indian Wells - was far from her free-flowing best against Bertens Saturday but she battled past the Dutchman after nearly two hours on court.

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That was not always the case on Saturday against Bertens as Serena Williams missed some serves by considerable margins and mistimed a few groundstrokes that landed far off the mark.

It will be the earliest meeting between the two since their first professional match in the second round of the 1998 Australian Open.

This will be their 29th competitive meeting.

Serena Williams owns a 17-11 record against Venus Williams, having taken the most recent matchup in the final at Melbourne past year.

The sisters were supposed to clash in the 2001 semi-final here, but Venus withdrew only a few minutes before the match was to begin, citing tendinitis in her right knee. Until then, I hope there are other women hearing them loud and clear, so that a generation can come up behind them, inspired to do exactly as they did.

Serena, 36 and vying to become the first woman to win three Indian Wells titles, clinched the victory against Bertens on her second match point when Bertens blasted a forehand wide.