Tennis: Venus triumphs in latest bout of sibling rivalry

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IT WAS all so different in Melbourne last January when Venus Williams defeated her sister, Serena, in the second round of the Australian Open, yet they still left the court hand-in-hand. After Venus put Serena out of the Italian Open in Rome yesterday, there was little sign of sisterly affection at the post-match handshake.

Venus, the American No 9 seed, took just an hour and a quarter to become the first semi-finalist at the women's Italian Open and a visibly irritated Serena barely touched her 17-year-old sister's hand before collecting her rackets and striding off the centre court. "In Melbourne, it did feel different playing against my sister, but today it felt much more like playing against any opponent." said the unseeded Serena.

Like their previous meeting, the match was more memorable for the sight of two sisters slugging it out in public than for the quality of the tennis.

Playing her first tournament on red clay in Europe, the 16-year-old Serena was able to show only occasional glimpses of the form which had accounted for the 12th seed, Nathalie Tauziat, in the first round and, remarkably, for the four-times Italian champion, Conchita Martinez.