Serena-Venus set up third-round clash

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Serena Williams shook off the rust from a 15-month layoff due to pregnancy to win her opening match at the WTA Indian Wells event with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Zarina Diyas.

The crowd welcomed Williams with a standing ovation when she entered the Tour court for the first time since she won her record 23 Grand Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open.

"I'm a little rusty, but it doesn't matter", she said. I'm still making errors that I don't normally make.

Serena, who said she was still trying to reach her form, outlasted her under two hours. Venus preceded her younger sister on the stadium court and beat Sorana Cirstea of Romania 6-3, 6-4.

Denmark's Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki
beat Spain's Lara Arruabarrena in the second round
Denmark's Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki beat Spain's Lara Arruabarrena in the second round

It took 14 years for Serena to return to play at Indian Wells; Venus returned a year later, in 2016, heartened by the reception her sister received a year earlier.

"It was incredible. It's been over a year, and a kid later, and I get to go home to her now, and I'm excited about that", the record Grand Slam singles titles victor said after the match.

They have faced each other repeatedly at the other most significant American tournaments, five times at the United States Open, four times in Key Biscayne, Fla., at the tournament now known as the Miami Open.

"So I have to be ready".

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"Everything is a bonus", Serena explained after the second-round fixture, but added she "would prefer to play someone else, anybody else, literally anybody else" rather than her sister. "I was (thinking) I've just got to keep going and do the best I can". It takes time to get back.' About retirement, she said, 'When I just wake up and I don't feel that tennis is something I want to do.

After watching an unseeded Serena Williams will herself to a first-round win at Indian Wells on Thursday, improving her game with each groundstroke, it seemed even more likely.

"I've had a couple solid weeks playing good tennis and I knew I had a chance today if I competed my hardest and put everything out there", said Collins.

Her focus was solid as Williams, with the exception of a few displays of emotion, maintained her cool for much of the night.

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Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki kept on her roll beating Lara Arruabarrena 6-4, 6-1.

In other matches on Saturday, defending champion Elena Vesnina was made to work against American CiCi Bellis, losing the first set before coming back strongly to win 2-6, 6-1, 6-1. "I can't like play with her right now". Interestingly, her first game happened on the same day as International Women's Day. Venus did not end her boycott until the following year.

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