Venus sweeps past Azarenka to face Serena at Top Seed Open

Tanya Simon
August 13, 2020

Williams needed to rally to win in her comeback following a six-month layoff, beating unseeded American Bernarda Pera 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 in Tuesday's first round of the Top Seed Open.

The Top Seed Open, the first WTA Tour tournament in the United States since the pandemic halted play, provided a taste of what is to come for the American as she again bids for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title in Flushing Meadows, with empty, silent stands taking the place of roaring crowds. After all, the seven-time Grand Slam champion had just beaten fellow former World No. 1 and Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka, 6-3, 6-2, in her first match back on tour following an imposed hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As Venus Williams prepares to face off against her sister Serena, perhaps she'll be a little inspired by Wonder Woman.

Serena will next play the victor of sister Venus Williams vs Victoria Azarenka, who lock horns later on Tuesday. And it was an interesting game.

Despite taking a well-deserved victory, Williams' performance left many questions unanswered, as she definitely appeared not in her best physical shape.

Both Venus and Serena will head to the New York City bubble after Lexington for the Western & Southern Open and US Open. One of the top players in the field wishes she had better planned for that possibility. But she dug deep to hold for a 5-4 lead and then broke for the set when Pera sent a forehand return wide.

One thing that was very noticeable about Venus in her win over Azarenka was her powerful first serve. Despite losing rhythm on her serve - which coughed up 10 double-faults - Gauff showed the extraordinary resilience that has made her the hottest young property in the game, coming through by a 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 scoreline.

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Bernarda Pera, who at 25 is 13 years William's junior, took the first set 6-4.

Coco Gauff, 16, was pushed in her opener, overcoming Caroline Dolehide 7-5 7-5.

"I kinda love being a full-time mum and not having the responsibilities to travel and play but now that I'm training again, it's become a lot", she told PEOPLE.

Although Williams had enjoyed "every part of the lengthy break", she said she also became "super, super careful" during the pandemic and "a bit of a recluse".

Seventh-seeded Sloane Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champ, lost to Canadian qualifier Leylah Fernandez, 6-3, 6-3.

The only other seed in action was Yulia Putintseva, who brushed past Ajla Tomljanovic 6-0 6-4.

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