But Indian Wells marks Serena's first tournament since beating Venus in the 2017 Australian Open final, having given birth to daughter Alexis Olympia last September and revealing to CNN she nearly died afterward due to a pulmonary embolism that triggered complications.
Venus Williams (R) of the USA hugs her sister Serena Williams (L) of the USA after defeating her in their match at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 12 March 2018.
She skipped the rest of the 2017 season, giving birth to a daughter, Olympia, on September 1 and marrying Alexis Ohanian in November before resuming training in earnest.
And in discussing her win over Serena, Venus was keen to highlight how the fans were lucky to be rewarded so early on with a huge clash between the two Williams sisters. Serena has gone through so much.and now she can go cuddle with her attractive baby... she will always return... and her sister played a great game!
"This is the earliest the sisters will be playing in a tournament since the 1998 Australian Open, when they met in the second round".
Richard Williams told USA Today he suffered racial abuse and Venus would later say "she heard whatever he heard".
Venus has only beaten Serena once since 2009, but the younger sister has just returned after becoming a mother.
Serena will now focus on the Miami Open after an encouraging few days at Indian Wells.
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"You're out there, and I can't really replicate the situation no matter how much I do in practice, or if I make those shots 10 times out of 10 in practice", Serena said.
Serena won her first two matches, while Venus received a first-round bye and won her opening match. But she also came up with winners under duress. "I just have a long way to go and I look forward to the journey", Serena added.
Venus had a bye in the first round due to being the eighth seed.
The Indian Wells match was 17 years in the making.
The sisters were supposed to play each other in the desert in 2001. The announcement drew boos from fans, who expressed doubt that she was indeed injured. A packed stadium awaited their semifinal but shortly before the match was to begin Venus withdrew with a right knee injury.
The crowd's treatment led to a 14-year boycott by the sisters, which Serena finally ended in 2015. Serena Williams, however, is back on court after surviving a post-natal ordeal, which she said nearly took her life away.
"It never crossed my mind", Venus said.