Seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams reached the WTA Indian Wells semi-finals for the first time since 2001 on Thursday by routing Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-3, 6-2. Despite the windy conditions, Venus improved to 5-2 on the season, including a third round win over sister Serena, who was making her return to the WTA after having a baby. Venus, who at 37 is the oldest player in the women's draw, has played sparingly this year but is just beginning to step up her game.
"We've had a lot of great matches," Venus said of playing Suarez Navarro. "I was glad that I was able to close it out."
She dominated Suarez Navarro, who became increasingly frustrated and had to call her coach a couple of times to come down to the court in between sets for advice.
Venus is back in the semis in the California desert for the first time since pulling out before a semi-final match against Serena in 2001, with an injury.
Although she skipped the event for many years, Venus said she recalled her earliest appearance fondly.
"This was my first breakout tournament when I was 16," Williams said.
Venus improved to 6-3 lifetime against the 29-year-old Suarez Navarro as the two veterans faced off for the first time since the round of 16 at last year's US Open.
Venus won that contest in three sets 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.
Venus, who is seeded eighth, will need that experience when she takes the court in the next round against Russian 20-year-old Daria Kasatkina who has been jackhammering Grand Slam champions for the past year and rolling over top 10 players this week in Indian Wells.
They have played twice before in 2016 with Venus winning at Wimbledon, 7-5, 4-6, 10-8 and Kasatkina winning another tough three setter in Auckland, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-3.