Venus Williams defeated Serena Williams for the first time in nearly four years, getting past her younger sister 6-3, 6-4 on Monday night in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California.
It is Venus’ first victory over Serena since August 2014 at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, and the first matchup where Venus was the higher-ranked player since the sisters met at Bangalore in March 2008.
“It’s different, I haven’t played in over a year. It’s definitely not less disappointing, I wish it was. But then I wouldn’t be who I am. … I just have a long way to go and I look forward to the journey,” Serena said after the match.
It was the earliest the sisters have met at an event in two decades, when they met in the secound round of the 1998 Australian Open.
Serena, who was unseeded in the tournament, still leads the head-to-head with Venus 17-12. She played in her first WTA tournament after a 14-month layoff for the birth of her first child.
In other action in the women’s bracket, Sloane Stephens remained mired in her post-US Open slump.
Stephens, the 13th seed, lost to No. 20 Daria Kasatkina of Russia 6-4, 6-3, and fell to 2-4 in matches this year.
“I mean, not going to be too down about it,” Stephens said. “There’s always next week and the week after.”
Kasatkina has beaten all four of the current Grand Slam champions in the last year: French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko, Australian Open winner Caroline Wozniacki, Wimbledon winner Garbine Muguruza and now Stephens.
Stephens, who won her first major at Flushing Meadows last fall, lost in the first rounds at the Australian Open and in Sydney before reaching the quarterfinals at Acapulco.
Wozniacki outlasted Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 for her 31st career match win at Indian Wells, where she has played 12 straight years. She won in the desert in 2011 and has been runner-up twice.
The highest-seeded player to lose Monday was No. 4 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, who was beaten 7-5, 6-3 by 27th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain. Also losing was No. 12 Julia Goerges of Germany, 6-3, 6-3 to No. 21 Anastasjia Sevastova of Latvia.
No. 7 Caroline Garcia of France beat 26th-seeded Daria Gavrilova of Australia 7-5, 6-4; No. 10 Angelique Kerber of Germany defeated No. 24 Elena Vesnina of Russia 7-5, 6-2; and American Danielle Collins continued her run with a 6-4, 6-4 win over fellow wild card Sofya Zhuk of Russia.
“It definitely feels like a big deal because I have never gone this far in a tournament,” Collins said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.