California, March 13: American tennis ace Serena Williams' return after a 15-month pregnancy layoff suffered a major blow as she knocked out of the Indian Wells Masters after going down against elder sister Venus Williams in the third round of the tournament here on Tuesday.
The two former world number ones resumed their rivalry, which began in the second round of Australia Open in 1998, today in the third-round with Serena holding a 17-11 head-to-head record and having clinched eight out of their last nine matches.
However, Venus proved too superior for Serena in the match as the former clinched a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 win over the new-mom in the last-32 clash that lasted one and a half hour. The match also saw Serena making 41 unforced errors, including 17 on the forehand side.
This was Serena's first tournament since ending a 15-month absence during which she gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. Meanwhile, it was the first win for Venus in this rivalry since 2014 and the first straight-set win since 2008. Venus will now be up against 21st seeded Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia in the fourth round of the tournament.
In another women's singles clash, 10th seed Angelique Kerber also reached last-16 after sweeping aside Russia's Elena Vesnina 7-5, 6-2. The German tennis star will now take on France's Caroline Garcia for a place in the quarter-finals of the tournament.