INDIAN WELLS, Calif.- - Serena Williams was eliminated by her older sister Venus Monday evening from her first tournament since becoming a mother.
Venus Williams was a 6-3, 6-4 winner in their third-round match of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
"Her level was super high,'' Venus Williams said. "It was really difficult to close out the match. She's going to be winning tournaments sooner than later."
Serena Williams said before the match she wished she was facing "anybody else in the draw, literally anybody, but that's OK.''
This was the 29th time the sisters have played each other in a Women's Tennis Association match and first since the final of last year's Australian Open when Serena Williams was a 6-4, 6-4 winner. Venus Williams had lost each of the last three matches. Serena Williams leads the series, 17-12.
This was the first time the siblings would play against each other at the BNP Paribas Open. They were supposed to meet in a semifinal in 2001, but Venus pulled out due to a knee injury. The announcement drew boos from fans, who expressed doubt that she was indeed injured.
At a news conference that day, another player was asked who would have won the match between the sisters. She said their father, Richard, would probably decide -- an insinuation that their matches were rigged.
"The false allegations that our matches were fixed hurt, cut and ripped into us deeply,'' Serena Williams wrote in a 2015 column published on the website Time.com announcing that would return to the tournament that year, ending a 14-year boycott.
"The undercurrent of racism was painful, confusing and unfair. In a game I loved with all my heart, at one of my most cherished tournaments, I suddenly felt unwelcome, alone and afraid.''
When Serena Williams played in that year's tournament final -- which she won -- she was booed throughout the match.
Serena Williams said on Saturday she "literally didn't even think about'' the canceled 2001 match.
"That's, you know, totally gone out of my mind,'' she said. ``First of all, 17 years ago seems like forever ago. Yikes.''
This was the earliest the sisters played in a tournament since the 1998 Australian Open, when they met in the second round. Most of their matches have come in finals or semifinals.
The early meeting was the result of Serena Williams being unranked and not being among the tournament's 32 seeded female players because of her maternity leave. She has won both her matches in straight sets.