In what became her first defeat since her return to the WTA Tour, Serena Williams crashed out of the BNP Paribas Open after falling to her sister, Venus Williams in the third round.
The former world number one, who recently returned to the sport after childbirth, hit four aces but had her serve broken four times in a 6-3 6-4 loss in California.
Venus moves on to the round of 16 where she will face Anastasija Sevastova, who beat beat German Julia Goerges in straight sets 6-3 6-3 in another third round game.
“It wasn’t easy, obviously,” said Serena, who was in her first event since beating Venus in the 2017 Australian Open final while pregnant.
“It was good to play and try to get in the rhythm and get into the swing again.I make those shots 10 times out of 10 in practice.
“It’s just the nerves, the anticipation you feel naturally. It’s a little bit of everything that comes in a match that just doesn’t normally happen.
“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,” added Serena.
“So I have just got to keep saying at each tournament that my goal is just to be better than the last. I don’t want to go backwards,” she stated.
It was the 29th meeting between the Williams sisters; and despite the defeat, younger Serena still leads 17-12 ahead of Venus.