INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 14: Elena Vesnina of Russia celebrates match point against Angelique Kerber of Germany in their fourth round match during day nine of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 14, 2017 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Elena Vesnina Triumphs over Venus Williams in Indian Wells

INDIAN WELLS, Calif - Elena Vesnina is through to the semifinals of the BNP Paribas after a three-set win over Venus Williams on Thursday. This is Vesnina's first Premier Mandatory semifinal.

The No. 15 seed jumped to an early lead, breaking Williams in the second game and holding to go up 3-0. She got another break to take the match 6-2.

In the second set Williams got a break in the fifth game but the Russian broke back right away, to level the set 3-3. The American forged another break and eventually took the set 6-4.

In the third set, Williams broke Vesnina in the first game but was broken right back. They remained on serve until The Russian broke to take the lead 3-2. She held and 5-2, wasting 3 match points on the American's racquet. When serving for the match at 5-3, she fend off a stubborn Williams, hitting a forehand winner to take the match 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

After the match, Vesnina spoke very highly of Williams, praising her for what she's done for the sport.

"She's a great example of how you can love tennis," enthused the Russian. "You know, for so many years, she brings so much passion and love to this game.

"She's coming and giving everything, you know. She's always fighting, always enjoying, smiling. You know, you can see she's, like, little girl on the court, actually, enjoying more than half of the WTA Tour. And we have to learn from her, you know, how she's appreciating what she's doing."

Williams, who's been struggling with a thigh injury since the beginning of the tournament, had no regrets playing injured.

"I would just like to be healthy just like the next human being," said Williams. "You beat your body up in sport, and I want to play these big events. I don't want to be at home watching. It's frustrating either way, not to be 100% or to watch at home. Which one do you choose?

"I chose to be here. That was my choice. I gave it my best today, and I'm looking forward to playing her again, hopefully healthy and 100%, and will have an opportunity to really show what I can do in these kind of matches.'

Vesnina plays Kristina Mladenovic in the semifinal. The Frenchwoman defeated Caroline Wozniacki for the first time in four tries.

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