Serena Williams wins Italian Open opener to kick-start clay-court season

Serena Williams has won the Italian Open four times

"It was really cool to share my favourite city with her, some of my favourite things to see".

Serena finished with 28 winners to Peterson's eight, and committed only two more unforced errors than the 58th-ranked Swede, 22-20. "But I did everything I could to stay fit and to keep my cardio up".

"It was a very long match", Venus said.

Venus, the 1999 champion, later edged out Belgium's Elise Mertens 7-5, 3-6, 7-6. Obviously the pasta and the food.

"I just smile and take pictures".

It will be another family affair on the courts of the Foro Italico, when she plays Venus, with the sisters last meeting in 1998, 21 years ago.

The 25-year-old Muguruza, who won the French Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2017, has twice reached the semi-finals in Rome.

"Unfortunately, I felt really bad today out there on court and had a fever [of] 38.1 [degrees], so I couldn't continue the match".

This is the first non-grand-slam tournament that Williams has played on a surface other than a hard...

"Now when I go to tournaments, I really kind of want to get there early so I can have these different experiences and photos and videos and memories with Olympia". Yeah, it is what it is.

However, despite enjoying a fourth success on the Azarenka serve, Svitolina was sensationally beaten as her rival reeled off five games in a row from 5-2 down, saving a match point in the first of those.

Despite being blown away in the second set - which was repeatedly interrupted by rain - after taking the first, the Ukrainian looked likely to progress when she claimed three successive breaks of serve at the start of the decider, either side of being broken once herself.

Peterson made one last stand in the final game - engineering two break points - but the American stood strong, saving both as she worked her way towards match point, converting her second to edge over the finish line.

"We're just as fierce, Venus is just as fierce. We'll both do the best that we can", warned Serena, who leads 18-12, the most recent at last year's US Open.

Next up at the Italian Open: Sister Venus Williams in the siblings' first meeting on European clay in almost 17 years.

"I know that's she's going to play well and compete really well, that's a given", added the 7-time Grand Slam singles victor.

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