Serena Williams and Venus Williams will face off for the 30th time in their lengthy careers in the second round of the Italian Open in Rome. It’s a rare meeting on the surface for the sisters, who have played just three times previously on clay. Venus won the first of those meetings back in 1998, defeating a 16 year-old Serena in Rome.
Serena will be hoping to regain her match sharpness quickly, after a year that has been very stop-start. She beat Rebecca Peterson in only her 9th match of the year, easing past the Swede 6-4 6-2. “It’s been a while. I haven’t played a ton of matches this year. Not my choice, just by force. I really, really actually desperately wanted to be on the tour and to be playing, but it hasn’t been able to work out.” she said afterwards. “I did everything I could to stay fit and to keep my cardio up. I knew that I love the clay season and I wanted to be a part of it.”
Venus had it much tougher, needing to win a final set tiebreak against Elise Mertens. She should have been out of sight far quicker, having led 5-2 in the decider as well as blowing eight match points in the 7-5 3-6 7-6 victory. “I think the first match after a while, you’re just trying to hang in there, just get the motor going. I think that’s really what today was about, just trying to get going.” said Venus.
It will be a matchup betweeen two players eager to shake the clay rust off ahead of the French Open. Serena will be looking to extend the head to head record to 18 and is the comfortable favourite to do so. “We’re just as fierce, Venus is just as fierce. We both really want to get some match play. We’ll both do the best that we can.” said Serena.
Prediction – Serena Williams in straight sets