The Williams sisters renewed their great sibling rivalry on Monday – the pair going head-to-head for the 29th time.
Venus successfully closed out the 29th career meeting on her second match point as Serena sailed a forehand long to end the third round match in front of a main stadium crowd of about 13,000.
Serena boasted a superior 17-11 record against her older sister, having defeated Venus in the 2017 Australian Open final – her last competitive outing before spending time away from the WTA Tour circuit following the birth of her daughter in September.
But the former world No. 1 was upstaged by a red-hot Venus in straight sets as the seven-time major winner reached the fourth round by beating Serena for the first time since 2014, despite a late wobble which saw her save a break point before moving through.
Serena said she is still easing her way back into match fitness.
“It wasn’t very easy, obviously,” she said. “It was good to play and try to get in the rhythm and get into the swing again.
“I can’t really replicate the situation no matter how much I do in practice. I make those shots 10 times out of 10 in practice.
“It’s just the nerves, the anticipation you feel naturally. It’s a little bit of everything that comes in a match that just doesn’t normally happen.”
The 10th seeded Venus moves on to the round of 16 where she will face Anastasija Sevastova, who defeated 12th seeded Julia Georges 6-3, 6-3.
It is rare for the Williams sisters to play this early in a tournament. It is the earliest they have faced each other since their first encounter at the Australian Open in 1998.
They arrived outside the stadium together on a golf cart then walked through the tunnel with Serena entering the court first, as many in the crowd stood and cheered.
Venus blasted six aces but had eight double faults in the one hour 26 minute main stadium match.
Serena is still shaking off the rust after the long layoff as she hit four aces but had her serve broken four times.
“I just have a long way to go,” Serena said.
Despite the loss Serena still leads their career series 17-12.
This was their first encounter with Venus as an aunt and Serena as a new mother after giving birth to her baby daughter, Alexis Olympia, on September 1.
Speaking further, Serena said she is trying not to look too far into the season.
“(Get) ready for the next tournament. I have a lot to improve on,” she said.
“It’s good that I don’t have to say that this is the best tennis I have ever played and I lost. My room for improvement is incredible.
“So I have just got to keep saying at each tournament that my goal is just to be better than the last. I don’t want to go backwards.”