Venus and Serena Williams turned back the time, and turned up the intensity as they went head to head at the Top Seed Open in Lexington, Kentucky on Thursday. Younger sister Serena pipped Venus to the post with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory to enter the quarterfinals.
The latest clash between the Williams sisters also happened to be the ‘oldest’ since 2004. Venus is 40, and Serena will turn 39 next month, making their combined age the highest in a WTA match since 2004, when Martina Navratilova, 47, played Amy Frazier, 31.
Serena, who now leads the head-to-head record 19-12, said the second-round clash against Venus was also one of their best.
“Australia 2003, which I’ll never forget,” the 38-year-old said when asked about the toughest match against her older sister.
“One of the most difficult matches of my career. Still don’t know how I won that match. Today was right up there. I would say it was one of the Top 5 of the all-time super competitive matches that we’ve played against each other.”
This was the most high-profile clash since tennis resumed after a five-month shutdown due to Coronavirus. The Williams sisters have won 30 Grand Slam singles titles between them, and the anticipation ahead of the clash was palpable.
With no spectators allowed in the stadium, people in the complex were actually lying on the ground to catch glimpses through the bottom of the fence.
Like she had in the first round against Bernarda Pera, Serena had to battle back from a set down to stay alive in the tournament. She also fought-off a 2-4 deficit in the third set to roar back to victory.
The point of the match came in the ninth game of the decider, with Venus serving at 4-4. The40-year-old served a double fault to hand Serena a break point, and the latter grabbed the chance, finishing a 12-shot rally with a backhand down the line winner on the run.
— wta (@WTA) August 13, 2020
“It was a very high quality match,” said Serena, who scored her 100th career win from a set down on Thursday.
“There was a lot of long points, running me around and then at one point it was just big serves and so I thought that was really interesting as we both started serving really well and returning well.”
Serena will face American wildcard Shelby Rogers in next round. This is the first tournament she is playing since February, and Serena is happy for every match she gets in her stride before she heads to the US Open.
The American will resume her bid for a record equaling 24th major at the hard-court Slam, which begins on August 31 in New York.