Serena Williams beaten by sister Venus at Indian Wells
A 6-3, 6-4 triumph for Venus Williams puts her in the last 16, while No 4 seed Elina Svitolina crashes out along with Sloane Stephens
Serena Williams' return to tournament tennis came to an abrupt end here Monday 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.
Elsewhere in the women's draw, reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens says this wasn't the statement she had hoped for in her first tournament in the USA since winning her first grand slam title.
The 24-year-old American suffered a shock third-round loss on Monday to world Nor 19 Daria Kasatkina in the US$16 million (Dh59m) joint WTA/ATP tournament, which is one of tennis' biggest events outside of the four grand slams.
Stephens made four double faults and had her serve broken four times in the 77 minute match against the 20-year-old Russian.
"Obviously not my best tennis today, but fortunately we get to play every single week," she said. "I am not going to be too down about it. There's always next week and the week after."
The unseeded Stephens enjoyed a fairytale run at the US Open in September, beating No 15 seed and fellow American Madison Keys 6-3, 6-0 in the final.
She says it is taking her a while to get back into the swing of things after the euphoric high of winning her first major.
"There's a lot that comes with winning a grand slam, and I think there is a lot that comes with winning a grand slam as an American player," she said.
"Being in the first final that Venus [Williams] and Serena wasn't in in like, the longest time ever. I don't even know how long it was.
"I think there was a lot that came with that. I wouldn't say there was a crash, but obviously going to China after you win the US Open is not always going to be the funnest thing.
"So I'm kind of getting back into it, and I'm just looking forward to playing again."
There was a surprise defeat for WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships winner Elina Svitolina.
The No 4 seed was beaten 7-5, 6-3 by Carla Suarez Navarro in their clash.
Updated: March 13, 2018 09:22 AM