The 23 time Grand Slam victor Serena, playing her first tournament for 14 months following the birth of her child, beat Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands by a 7-6, 7-5 scoreline in her second round match at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden to set up the tie with her older sister and eighth seed Venus. "Whether it's Venus or anyone else, it's going to be someone", Serena said of her clash with sister.
"Obviously I wish it was anybody else in the draw, literally anybody, but that's O.K.", Serena Williams said of their latest rematch. "But I call this a trial run".
"I'm getting there. I have such a long way to go", Serena said. Serena Williams went next, beating No. 29 seed Kiki Bertens, 7-6 (5), 7-5, in a tight match full of high-velocity rallies and abrupt shifts in momentum. Serena leads Venus 17-11 all-time and has won eight of their last nine meetings, most recently the Australian Open final past year.
Serena Williams found herself down 5-3 in the first set, but broke back as the set went into a tie-break which she took on the last of four set-points.
Venus did her part to set up the marquee match when she dismantled world No. 35 Sorana Cirstea 6-3, 6-4 in just 79 minutes.
Williams improved to 3-0 in her career against Bertens, and the biggest challenge of her comeback tournament awaits in the third round.More news: Modi speaks tough as more statues are targeted
Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki also advanced, courtesy of a 6-4 6-1 victory over Spain's Lara Arruabarrena.
Controversy brewed in 2001 when the sisters were scheduled to meet in the semi-finals of Indian Wells but Venus withdrew, handing Serena a walkover.
Men's world number 1 and 20-times Slam champion Roger Federer was made to wait after taking a 6-3 lead against Argentine Federico Delbonis.
The fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina dropped the first set to Mona Barthel before she charged home to win 2-6 6-1- 6-1.
She joined American upset winners Sachia Vickery, who beat No. 3 seed Garbine Muguruza; 16-year-old wild card Amanda Anisimova, who beat No. 23 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova; and wild-card teenager Caroline Dolehide, a three-set victor over No. 30 Dominika Cibulkova on Friday.
Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem beat Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.