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Venus Williams beaten by Kiki Bertens... but draw opens up for sister Serena as just two top 10 seed

For nearly 90 minutes on Friday Wimbledon enjoyed the sight of the Williams sisters simultaneously duking it out in the showpiece arenas.

With Serena on Centre and Venus on Court One, they went stroke for stroke in fighting against the tide of younger, inspired opponents.

Sport's most famous sibling pair have been doing this for a good 20 years now, but it has become rare to see them both in action at the same time at the All England Club, particularly in contests of such quality and sway, so it was an afternoon to be treasured indeed.

Ultimately there was a Kiki in the teeth. Venus could not overcome Kiki Bertens, who earned one of the biggest wins of her career, and the terse press conference afterwards told of a player who still hurts in defeat.

She is 38 now but answered simply 'yes' when asked if we can expect her back next year and there was certainly plenty in her performance to suggest that is a logical rather than emotional decision.

Venus was seeded ninth here, so her loss to clay-court specialist Bertens is a significant upset, but it could not be attributed to a laissez-faire attitude. Time and again she roused herself from the cusp of defeat and saved two match points before ultimately succumbing 6-2, 6-7, 8-6 in 2hr 40min.

Rather unfairly, Venus said luck had featured prominently, but that does a disservice to the boldness of Bertens' shot selection and the accuracy of her execution.

Her mental strength too. Bertens, 26, made the French Open semi-finals in 2016, so has pedigree, but all her previous five wins over top-10 opponents came on clay.

Then there was a past meeting in Miami in March when Bertens lost despite holding three match points.

The Dutch player confessed that missed opportunity played on her mind when she failed to serve out the match in the second set, and there was also the weight of Venus's experience to counter, an aura to overcome.

Bertens was five when Venus made here debut here, for example. Going in, the American with five titles to her name was the clear crowd favourite. But by the end those in the stands were cheering Bertens loudly, such is the attraction of compelling competition.

'I just kept telling myself that I had a chance,' said Bertens. 'I played a really good match, aggressive, kept going for it.'

It was the same on Centre, where another Kiki was creating a commotion. By coincidence Kristina Mladenovic is commonly known as Kiki too, and when she went a break up in the first set over Serena the prospect of a double Williams departure was on.

Mladenovic was serving superbly, delivering one 117mph ace down the middle, but faltered when serving for the set at 5-4. She turned her ankle and then the match turned too. Serena broke back and won the set when Mladenovic double-faulted.

The pair traded breaks in the second but into the tie-break Serena's poise told and her serving came into its own. She raced into a lead and won through back-to-back booming aces.

Those who questioned her seeding of 25 cannot even now doubt her position as genuine title contender in only her second Slam back after becoming a mother.

Not only have her performances carried the usual air of supreme skill and confidence but her draw has opened up. Next is world No 120 Evgeniya Rodina, a fellow mother who knocked out 10th-seed Madison Keys by virtue of the talented American suffering a complete meltdown.

Beyond that an unseeded quarter-final opponent awaits. With eight of the top 10 seeds now out, an eighth title is eminently possible, even probable, although the junior Williams sister could not quite remember how many times she had called herself champion here previously.

She was reflecting on being able to carry a nothing-to-lose attitude on to court when she said: 'I don't necessarily have to win another Wimbledon in my career, was it six times? It was seven, OK. See, I don't even remember.' She certainly is aware of her greatness, however, warming to a theme Keys had mentioned earlier in the day that female players in the locker room raise their games for the Queen of Wimbledon.

'Every single match I play, whether I'm coming back from a baby or surgery, it doesn't matter, these young ladies, they bring a game that I've never seen before,' she said.

'It's interesting because I don't even scout as much because when I watch them play, it's a totally different game than when they play me. That's what makes me great: I always play everyone at their greatest, so I have to be greater.

'Now my level is so much higher because of years and years of being played like that. I'm used to it.'

It seems she has quickly become used to performing to peak powers as a mum too, with baby Olympia accompanying her for the first time at a Grand Slam this fortnight. 'I worked really, really hard, it has been a long arduous road,' she said.

Image: Daily Mail

Culled from Daily Mail and Wimbledon Podcast

My view: At 38, Venus really tried her best, but it wasn't enough, I feel she lacks a bit of an edge to finish off matches these days. But still credit to her for narrowly losing to a younger opponent, not really her season. Great win for Serena, I don't get why Serena wore long sleeve top in extreme London heat.