The sister showdown between the Williams pair bit the dust on Tuesday as Serena withdrew from the tournament with what officials said was a knee injury.
After a week of pre-event training – and presumably, some shopping in one of the world’s fashion hotspots – the No. 11 called it all off.
The sister act would have played at the Foro Italico for the first times since 1998 when they met as teenagers, with elder sister Venus winning the second of what has become 31 career meetings.
After advancing to the Rome second round on Monday, Serena admitted she was far from match-fit.
“I actually haven’t been able to train or practise a lot. I was out much longer than I expected,” she said after last playing in March in Miami – where she also withdrew in the fourth round.
“But I did everything I could to stay fit and to keep my cardio up.”
“I love the clay season and I wanted to be a part of it. I literally did everything that I could,”
Earlier, Serena recalled her match against her sister Venus in the event back in 1998.
“I vaguely remember that, so I don’t really remember. But, yeah, it could happen.
“We play each other a lot.Seems like every tournament nowadays we meet early. Yeah, it is what it is. We’ll see. She has a really tough first round. I’m really hoping she’ll get through that, then we’ll go from there.”
On her win over Rebecca Peterson, the 23-time Grand Slam winner added: “It felt good to be back in the match.It’s been a while. I haven’t played a ton of matches this year. Not my choice, just by force.
“I really, really actually desperately wanted to be on the tour and to be playing, but it hasn’t been able to work out. It felt good to finally be back out.
Venus advances without a shot being played and will Thursday face the winner from Briton Johanna Konta and seventh seed Sloane Stephens.