Venus sets up Serena showdown


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Serena Williams is looking forward to playing her sister Venus in the second round of the Italian Open.

Serena had not played a competitive match since March but was in fine form as she kicked off her clay court campaign with a 6-4 6-2 win over Rebecca Peterson.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion will come up against Venus for the 31st time in their careers although they have not met in Rome since 1998.

Serena, who was forced out of the Miami Open because of a knee injury, said: “It felt good to be back in the match. It’s been a while. I haven’t played a ton of matches this year.”

Venus beat Elise Mertens 7-5 3-6 7-6 in a fluctuating first-round encounter that lasted more than three hours, with number 10 seed Serena adding: “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.”

The last time the sisters met was at last year’s US Open when Serena emerged victorious on her way to reaching the final, where she was beaten by Naomi Osaka.

Serena has won 18 of their 30 encounters including two of their three meetings on clay, with her only loss coming in Rome 21 years ago. Venus admitted: “I know that she’s going to play really well and compete really well. That’s a given.”

This will be their first meeting on red clay since the 2002 French Open final, which Serena won. Serena is 1.29 to win their latest match with Venus available at 3.60 to come out on top.

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