Venus Williams has defeated her sister Serena in the third round at the Indian Wells Open in California.

This is Serena’s first competitive tournament in over a year, after she took the time off to give birth to her first child.

Prior to her comeback, she had acknowledged how challenging her return would be, and this result is evidence of how important regular tennis is – regardless of pedigree.

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Losing 6-3 6-4, Serena was visibly out of rhythm – perhaps understandable, given the length of her lay-off.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner can be dominant, but it seems her best tennis may be ahead of her yet.

Of her performance, Serena said:

It was good to play and try to get in the rhythm and get into the swing again,

I can’t really replicate the situation no matter how much I do in practice. I make those shots 10 times out of 10 in practice.

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Looking ahead, the 36-year-old sees plenty of opportunity to get better:

It’s good that I don’t have to say that this is the best tennis I have ever played and I lost. My room for improvement is incredible,

It’s just the nerves, the anticipation you feel naturally. It’s a little bit of everything that comes in a match that just doesn’t normally happen.

Venus will play Anastasija Sevastova of Lithuania in the final sixteen.