“Obviously I didn’t want to play Venus so early on, but it can happen,” Serena said following the match.
After blowing through the first two rounds of the BNP Paribas Open, defeating Zarina Diyas and Kiki Bertens, Serena’s comeback was thwarted when she faced her sister for the 29th time. While Serena has won 17 of the Williams sisters’ head-to-head matchups, Venus got the better of her younger sister, winning in straight sets 6-3 6-3.
“I definitely know her well,” Serena said of her sister. “But she definitely played a little better than she normally does today.”
Venus called the match “a treat” for fans.
“[Serena] plays so well. I think it’s such a treat for everyone to see this match so early in her comeback,” Venus said. “I always know that it’s never over until it’s over and she just came roaring back.”
This is the first time the pair have faced off since Serena beat Venus in the finals of the Australian Open in January 2017. Serena was two-months pregnant at the time, and would take the remainder of 2017 off to focus on her pregnancy. Serena gave birth to Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. in September of that year, and Indian Wells marked her return to competitive play.
Though she’s arguably the greatest tennis champion of all time, with 23 Grand Slam titles, Serena said she has a long way to go before she’s back to her usual dominant form.
“I have a lot to improve on,” she said. “It’s good that I don’t have to say that this is the best tennis I have ever played and I lost. My room for improvement is incredible. So I have just got to keep saying each tournament my goal is just to be better than the last. I definitely don’t want to go backwards. I just want to continue to go forwards.”
Serena added, “I just have a long way to go, and I’m looking forward to the journey.”
If anyone thought Serena would retire from tennis after becoming a mom, the 36-year-old said she has her eyes on breaking the Grand Slam title record and being the most decorated tennis champ of all time.
“I absolutely want more Grand Slams,” she told Vogue earlier this year. “I’m well aware of the record books, unfortunately. It’s not a secret that I have my sights on 25.”