Serena Williams fought back from a set down and trailing by two games in the deciding set to defeat sister Venus Williams on Thursday and advance to the quarterfinals of the Top Seed Open.
In the 31st installment of a rivalry going back 22 years between the legendary siblings, tournament favorite Serena prevailed 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a high-quality contest in Lexington, Ky. She will face Shelby Rogers in the next round.
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The Williams sisters are competing this week for the first time since the WTA Tour season was suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, and Venus had the better start to their match. Serena charged into a 2-0 lead in the opening set but her older sibling won the next five games to take control.
There were too many errors from Serena, and Venus made her pay, winning the first set point she manufactured courtesy of a powerful serve that could not be returned.
Serena, who has now won 10 of their past 12 completed encounters dating to 2009, responded well in the second and went a break up at 4-2 before seeing out the set to level up.
After a 10-minute break in accordance with rules concerning heat, Serena drew first blood in the deciding set by breaking her opponent with a cross-court forehand in the third game.
Venus answered by breaking in the following game and then opened up a 4-2 advantage when converting with a forehand winner in the sixth. She was unable to pull clear, however, as Serena won the next three games, capped by making the most of a double-fault to take a 5-4 lead.
The final game went with the serve, despite the 23-time major champion falling behind 30-15. The end came when Venus misfired on a forehand down the middle.