INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Playing just her seventh match of the year, Venus Williams rallied to beat Andrea Petkovic 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday.
The match featured two former top-10 players who have fallen in the rankings. Williams is No. 36 in the world; Petkovic is 68th. The women met for the first time in five years.
Williams needed nearly two hours to advance and next plays third-seeded Petra Kvitova, runner-up to Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open in January.
Williams’ younger sister, Serena, received a first-round bye and will play Victoria Azarenka in a rematch of the 2016 final in the Southern California desert. Azarenka won that year, the last time the two major champions met.
Other winners in the women’s draw were American Madison Brengle, Kristina Mladenovic and Yulia Putintseva.
Men’s play began Thursday, with Philipp Kohlschreiber defeating Pierre-Hugues Hebert 6-4, 6-0.