Venus Returns To QFs; Kerber Falls

© 2017 Billie Weiss/BNP Paribas Open

Venus Williams is back in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open for the first time in 16 years.

The seven-time major singles champion powered past Chinese qualifier Peng Shuai 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 after nearly two hours on Tuesday afternoon.

The 36 year old closed out the battle with a driving winner, and acknowledged the crowd with her signature post-win twirl.

"Every time I got down, the crowd was with me. It was a beautiful thing," said the No. 12 seed in her post-match interview.

"I feel the love. It definitely helps. It’s also building memories and being able to come here and play my best tennis. Even if it’s not the best, the effort is there.

"[Peng] has been in the Top 20. She knows how to play the game," said Williams, who exacted revenge on her loss to the Chinese in Beijing in October.


Williams will bid for her third Indian Wells semifinal against No. 14 Elena Vesnina. The Russian dismissed No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-3.

I think I played a really good match," said Vesnina. "I’m just really happy that I closed it out because this win means a lot to me."

Vesnina, who's won the BNP Paribas Open doubles title twice (2011 w/ Mirza, 2013 w/ Makarova), leads 3-2 in her head-to-head series against Williams.

"I have so much respect for Venus. She's a great champion and it's always an honor to play her. We’ve played so many matches in the past."

Despite the loss, the German Kerber regains the top spot in the WTA Rankings from Serena Williams after the American withdrew from the tournament due to injury.

Joining Venus in the final eight is No. 28 seed Kristina Mladenovic, who ended the run of American Lauren Davis 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and 27 minutes. The Frenchwoman improves to a 15-5 match win record on the year. Mladenovic lifted her first career title in St. Petersburg in February (d. Putintseva).

Next up for Mladenovic will be 13th seed Caroline Wozniacki. The 2011 Indian Wells champion defeated home hope Madison Keys 6-4, 6-4 in the last match of the day.

"I've had a good year so far, staying healthy," said Wozniacki in her on-court interview. "Indian Wells is one of my favorite tournaments of the year. I'm happy to be back and to get another match out here. It's tough to play someone like Madison, with big shots. I have to be a wall. I mixed the pace up, mixed the serves up a lot today. I tried to kick it. It was effective today."