Serena Williams Faces Tough Road In Return To Indian Wells

Serena Williams
A consortium comprising China’s Anta Sports Products Ltd. and Chinese buyout firm FountainVest has approached Finnish sports equipment maker Amer Sports Oyi for a $5.5 billion takeover. Amer Sports makes the Wilson tennis rackets used by Serena Williams.

(Photo: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

Serena Williams has been dealt an extremely difficult draw in her return to the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. Despite receiving a first-round bye, Williams is in line to face a plethora of tennis superstars on her way to reclaiming the title she won back in 1999 and 2001.

Williams, a 23-time women single's grand slam champion, could face Victoria Azarenka in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open. Of course, Azarenka has to make it past her compatriot Lapko Vera first to set up a rematch against Williams. Victoria Azarenka is a former world number one and an Olympics Bronze medallist trails Serena Williams in their head-to-head matchup. However, Azarenka defeated Williams in their last meeting to win the title in the 2016 Indian Wells Masters.

Serena Williams could face world number 15 Garbine Muguruza in the third round. Muguruza, a former world number one herself, also has a first-round bye and will face the winner between Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Lauren Davis. Williams leads Muguruza in their head-to-head matchup. However, Garbine Muguruza defeated Williams the last time they lined up against each other at the finals of the 2016 French Open. If Williams can win against Garbine Muguruza, she could face the seventh-seed Kiki Bertens in the round of 16 and then the fourth-seed Sloane Stephens in the quarter-finals provided that these seeded players also make it through. Kiki Bertens, a former top-20 player and currently ranked number 69 in the world, has never beaten Williams in three tries, but their matches have always been competitive. The American Sloane Stephens, the current world number 4, have only defeated Williams once in 6 matches, and like Williams battles against Bertens, all their matches have been close.

The 37-year-old Serena Williams should already be used to difficult tournament draws. Just this year at the 2019 Australian Open, Williams was paired against Eugenie Bouchard and Dayana Yastremska in the third and fourth round, respectively, before eventually facing the world number one Simona Halep at the round of 16. Williams managed to win all her matches before falling to Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-final.

The Japanese world number one Naomi Osaka is the defending champion at Indian Wells. Serena Williams has never beaten the 2019 Australian Open and 2018 US Open champion in two meetings. The 2019 BNP Paribas Open, also called Indian Wells Masters, is scheduled to run from March 4 to March 17. The tournament winner will take home $1,354,010 while the runner-up will receive $686,000.

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