Serena Williams edges Kiki Bertens to face Venus

Dianna Christensen
March 14, 2018

"I'm getting there. I have such a long way to go", Serena said.

"Obviously I wish it was anybody else in the draw, literally anybody, but that's okay", she said. "So it is what it is".

Prior to her return to professional tennis, she has played in two minor matches - an exhibition game in Abu Dhabi last December and a doubles rubber to represent the US Fed Cup team against the Netherlands in February.

Serena had to serve for the match twice against a determined Bertens but closed it out 7-6 (5), 7-5. "It was looking scary in the second set so it was good to pull it out", Venus said.

With this win, Serena sets up a highly-anticipated third-round encounter against sister Venus Williams, in what would be their 29th career meeting.

The second seed and Australian Open champion will next face Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus. Until then, I hope there are other women hearing them loud and clear, so that a generation can come up behind them, inspired to do exactly as they did.

Venus was complimentary of her sister's performance in her first tournament back since her long layoff. "It's a huge difference to play her in the semi-finals or even the quarter-finals or a final as opposed to the third round".

Who will prevail out of Serena and Venus?

Serena boycotted the event until 2015.

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Serena, who is returning to the sport after taking more than a year away to have a baby, was ragged at times but used her power to wear down the Dutch 29th seed in Indian Wells, California.

"That's totally gone out of my mind", she said.

Venus is enjoying a resurgence on the Tour after a string of injuries limited her playing time for several seasons.

Venus won 61 percent of her first-serve points and broke Cirstea's serve six times.

Her average first- and second-serve speeds were superior to Williams's on Saturday, and she tried and failed to serve for the opening set before Williams eventually prevailed in a tiebreaker.

The sisters and Richard Williams have denied that any such arrangement took place in Indian Wells, and Dementieva later insisted she had been joking.

Ukrainian fourth seed Elina Svitolina avoided a similar demise, beating German Mona Barthel 6-4 6-3.

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.

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