Friday at the BNP Paribas Open 2016 in Indian Wells was all about the return of the Williams sisters and the two world-class players received a very warm welcome in the Californian desert.
After Serena Williams ended her absence from Indian Wells that lasted more than a decade with her comeback last year, it was Venus Williams’ turn to finally come back to one of the WTA tour’s most prestigious tournaments.
Playing Japan’s Kurumi Nara, Venus completed her first Indian Wells match in 15 years, receiving a very favorable welcome by the crowd. Unfortunately, the vocal fans weren’t able to carry Venus to a homecoming victory, as Nara prevailed in straight sets in a match that was briefly interrupted by a rain delay.
In the evening, it was Serena Williams’ turn to kick off her 2016 BNP Paribas Open campaign, as the world #1 played her first match after losing the Australian Open final to Angelique Kerber. Williams played another German on Friday, but Laura Siegemund wasn’t nearly as able as Kerber to trouble Williams and the world #1 cruised to a swift straight-set win.
Two other seeded players had a much more problematic path into the third round as both Agnieszka Radwanska & Petra Kvitova were facing an early exit on Friday. While Radwanska had her hands full with Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova, Kvitova needed a third-set tiebreak to finally get by youngster Danka Kovinic.
The second round will be completed on Saturday as Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber and former BNP Paribas Open champion Victoria Azarenka are due to kick off their 2016 Indian Wells campaign alongside plenty of other players.
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