The 34-year-old Venus hadn't beat her 32-year-old sister in five matches going back to Dubai in 2009. Top-ranked Serena still leads the all-time series 15-11.
Unseeded Venus started with strong serving and took a 3-1 lead before Serena tied it 3-3. The younger sibling and defending champion prevailed in the tiebreaker, taking a 4-0 lead.
The second set was all Venus, who earned two service breaks while her sister struggled with unforced errors.
Serena made two errors and dropped serve to trail 4-2 in the third set. Venus — who dropped serve only once in the match — served for the win at 5-3. Venus hit a rocket serve on her third match point that Serena returned into the net.
Serena had 19 aces and nine double-faults, while Venus had six aces and two doubles-faults.
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