Serena ousted by sister Venus

Venus Williams now moves on to face Anastasija Sevastova. AFP

"Honestly have to get focused for the next match", said Venus, who plays 21st seed Anastasija Sevastova on Tuesday.

"I haven't played in over a year", she said.

This was Serena's first tournament since ending a 15-month absence during which she gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. Elsewhere, Australian Open champ Caroline Wozniacki benefited from a challenge call in the final game en route to defeating Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. Venus closed out the 29th career meeting between the two on her second match point as Serena sailed a forehand long to end the third round match. "I'm getting there. It's not exactly where I want to be, but I'll get there eventually". She finished with 41, compared to Venus' 19, and failed to serve her best.

This was the first singles tournament of her comeback, and she arrived with no official ranking or seeding, resulting in this third-round clash with the eighth-seeded Venus.

My room for improvement is incredible.

But for now, the rule stands and Serena, who will have an official ranking next Monday, will continue to be the most risky unseeded player in women's tennis.

Serena won her first two matches, while Venus received a first-round bye and won her opening match.

In the men's draw, world No. 1 Roger Federer stepped up his bid for a record sixth Indian Wells title with a 6-2, 6-1 demolition of Filip Krajinovic on Monday.

"I think she's going to be speeding back to the seedings and to winning tournaments sooner than later", Venus said. A packed stadium awaited their semifinal but shortly before the match was to begin Venus withdrew with a right knee injury.

That triggered ugly scenes, as their father Richard said he was racially abused by fans when Serena then played - and won - the final against Kim Clijsters. Venus's victory also comes 17 years after an ugly booing incident led to a 14-year boycott of the tournament by the sisters.

Even with her run at Indian Wells coming to a relatively quick end, Serena showed flashes of the power and speed that made her the best in the world.

Both sisters have been greeted warmly by fans each time they've played here since that turbulent time.

Asked if playing Monday brought closure to what happened in 2001, seven-time grand slam champion Venus replied: "It never crossed my mind".

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