Venus Williams beat Serena Williams in straight sets on Monday night, ending her sister’s incredible run at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California.
And women’s tennis should breathe a sigh of relief.
Let’s be clear: This is in no way throwing shade on the return of Serena Williams. What she’s been able to do this past week — straight sets wins over the Nos. 53 and 29 players in the world — is nothing short of incredible for a player in her first competitive tournament singles match in 14 months after enduring a difficult childbirth last September.
The straight sets win by Venus Williams (6-3, 6-4) is good for the game because what would that have said about the state of women’s tennis if a player had taken that long of a break and come back to reach the fourth round of a top tournament with three straight wins, including a victory over a top 10 player? Yes, Williams had gotten the better of her sister in head-to-head matches throughout their careers, but a victory by Williams over the No. 8 player in the world would have left tarnish on her sister’s name and the women’s game.
Venus Williams won for just the second time in 10 meetings against her sister (Williams holds a 17-12 edge in head-to-head matches). The sisters played a solid match with some drama in the second set when Venus Williams, seemingly on the way to an easy win, had to fight off a furious attempted comeback by her sister.
We don’t have to worry about Williams. She moved well in chasing down balls, showed a lot of heart and drove the ball with the same fire and fury that has led her to 23 career Grand Slam victories.
A month ago you would have thought Williams would be lucky if she could get back to Grand Slam form next year.
Today, you can actually see her being ready to take on all comers and compete for a major by the time the US Open rolls around in August — or maybe even sooner.
Monday’s third-round match was the earliest between Serena and Venus Williams since 1998, when the two met in the second round of the Australian Open (Venus Williams won in straight sets in what was the first meeting between the two in a professional match).
Venus Williams won on Monday.
Williams was competitive in defeat, and has to feel she’s in a good place after playing three rounds in a tournament in which she entered with low expectations.
And women’s tennis? Women’s tennis is in a good place, too.
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