Venus falls on Indian Wells return

Venus Williams (left) shaking hands with Japanese qualifier Kurumi Nara after her first-round loss on Friday. The American had returned to play in the Indian Wells tournament after 15 years.
Venus Williams (left) shaking hands with Japanese qualifier Kurumi Nara after her first-round loss on Friday. The American had returned to play in the Indian Wells tournament after 15 years. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

INDIAN WELLS • Venus Williams finally made peace with Indian Wells on Friday by ending her 15-year boycott of the hard-court tennis tournament, but her return lasted only one match as sister Serena looked poised for a long run after a dominant win at the BNP Paribas Open.

Venus returned to the event for the first time since 2001, after being heckled by fans during her previous trip, but made a quick exit after a 4-6, 3-6 loss to Japanese qualifier Kurumi Nara in the second round.

The incident occurred 15 years ago when Venus withdrew from a semi-final with Serena, drawing ire from the crowd aimed at the Williams family.

This time, though, the American was greeted warmly by the 7,000-strong crowd before and throughout her match, a consolation for her poor performance.

"It was enough of a fairy tale to come here and play. It is time to move on and let the past be the past. When I was out there I didn't think back. It was a long time ago," Venus said. "A win would have been nice, but that means I have to come back, play next year."

Serena had no such issues with German opponent Laura Siegemund in a 6-2, 6-1 romp.

The world No. 1 had already reconciled with the event last year when she ended her own boycott and took a little over an hour to advance. "My intensity was key. I knew if I didn't start fast it was going to be a long match," she said.

Serena advances to the third round where she will face unseeded Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.

In earlier action, third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska prevailed in a three-set thriller in her opening 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 win against Dominika Cibulkova while defending champion Simona Halep made easy work of Vania King in a 6-1, 6-1 victory.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova needed a third-set tie-breaker to defeat Montenegrin Danka Kovinic 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5).

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 13, 2016, with the headline 'Venus falls on Indian Wells return'. Print Edition | Subscribe