Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams saved three match points en route to a 1-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 victory over old foe Jelena Jankovic on Saturday to reach the third round at Indian Wells.
Williams, playing her second tournament since a scintillating run to the Australian Open final where she was beaten by her sister Serena, looked headed for the exit as she trailed by a set and a break for 1-3 in the second set.
She broke Jankovic twice to take a 5-4 lead, but the Serb veteran, like Williams a former world number one, broke in the 10th game to knot the set at 5-5.
Serving to save the match, Williams was on the ropes in the 12th game, but she saved three match points to force the decider and once she’d come through that ran away with the third.
“Jelena and I have had so many epic matches,” said Williams, who evened her head-to-head record with Jankovic at seven wins apiece. “There was a lot of history out there with us.”
The key she said, was not surrendering. “It ain’t over til it’s over,” she said. “And I didn’t see no fat lady singing.”