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Venus cuts Serena's comeback short at Indian Wells

Venus cuts Serena's comeback short at Indian Wells

All of this is to say, Serena's loss is a mixed bag of takeaways.

It brought closure to the once testy relationship between Indian Wells and the sisters who hail from the Los Angeles suburb of Compton.

Serena fell short in the third round after a strong start, winning the first two matches against Venus.

Asked if playing Monday brought closure to what happened in 2001, seven-time grand slam champion Venus replied: "It never crossed my mind".

It is rare for the Williams sisters to play this early in a tournament and the earliest they have faced each other since their first encounter at the Australian Open in 1998. Even though I haven't even played that much this year, the matches in the last year count.

"I really abhor every time we play, but I do enjoy the battle when I'm out there", Serena said last weekend.

No one would dispute that.

Former world number one Serena Williams remarked that she has "a long way to go" in her comeback bid after suffering defeat at the hands of sister Venus at Indian Wells, on Monday. Venus will next play against Anastasija Sevastova from Latvia in the fourth. They sat with their backs to each other, with Serena on the back of the cart with Beats headphones over her ears.

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The sisters - as ever - exchanged a hug at the net. It was one of Serena's 41 unforced errors, including 17 on the forehand side.

"Missing shots that I never miss, and so close", Serena said. But from then on Venus made fewer mistakes and took a commanding lead. "It's always disappointing to me to lose to anyone. Then I wouldn't be who I am", Serena said.

"I just have a long way to go", Serena said.

"I have a lot to improve on", she said. "It was good to play and try to get in the rhythm and get into the swing again". My room for improvement is incredible.

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"I don't think it would have been a surprise if I had have won". Serena came back in 2015 only to withdraw with a knee injury before her semifinal, and Venus followed the next year.

"In a way, it's normal she did not win tonight", her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, told ESPN.com.

As for Venus, she attributed the victory to having more match practice than her sister, and credited Serena for her attempted fightback from two breaks down in the second set. "I'm playing a completely different player, new challenges".