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Venus sets up all-Williams clash at Italian Open

Venus sets up all-Williams clash at Italian Open

America's twenty-three-time grand slam champion, Serena Williams kicked off her clay-court season with a comfortable 6-4, 6-2 victory over Swedish qualifier, Rebecca Peterson in the first round of the Italian Open.

After a shaky start, Williams began to take control with her baseline power on a windy day at the Foro Italico.

Serena finished with 28 winners to Peterson's eight, and committed only two more unforced errors than the 58th-ranked Swede, 22-20.

Serena Williams will face her sister Venus in the second round of the Internazionali d'Italia after they secured contrasting first-round victories on Monday.

Serena and Venus Williams won their respective first round matches in Rome on Monday and will meet in the second round of the Italian Open.

The make-up of Williams's new grass diet is unclear - one likely method of intake is through a smoothie drink - yet the effects were noticeable during her first match for nearly eight weeks.

Svitolina - seeking a third title in a row in Rome - then blew a 4-1 lead in the third set of a rain-hit duel with Azarenka, as the latter saved a match point and completed an unlikely comeback to triumph 4-6 6-1 7-5.

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"I did everything I could to stay fit and keep my cardio up".

'When you're sedentary it becomes hard to manage your body so basically you have to just eat grass. "But it worked and paid off", Williams said.

"I know that she's going to play really well and compete really well", Venus said. "I couldn't really tell when or how it was going to end, was happy it did".

"I feel really sad about it, but I will do everything possible to recover as quick as I can".

"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".

She missed a further two match points as Mertens battled to level the set at 6-6, before finally taking the match in the tie-break and setting up a 31st clash with her sibling. "I was out much longer than I expected", Williams said. It will be their first head-to-head meeting on European clay since 2002, that was the final of the French Open.

Serena is playing only her fourth tournament of the season and was unable to finish her last two due to physical ailments.