Venus Williams outlasted Madison Keys at the 2019 BB&T Atlanta Open women’s exhibition match Sunday night. Behind a tiebreaker to finish the match, Williams won in straight matches 6-3, 7-6. Keys led much of the second set, but Williams held on, earning and winning a tiebreaker game and securing the exhibition match victory. 

“After us, the level obviously goes down,” Keys joked in a pre-match press conference of the men’s tournament which continues through this week. “We set a really high level and we’ll see if the boys can keep up with us.” 

» Photos:  Williams, Keys kick off tournament

Keys, 24, said she idolized Williams growing up. Since then, she’s faced the tennis legend, 38, four times competitively. In the series, Keys and Williams are split with two wins each. Keys more recently besting her opponent in 2016 in Montreal.

Madison Keys returns a shot to Venus Williams during the special women's exhibition tennis match at the BB&T Atlanta Open Tournament, Sunday, July 21, 2019, in Atlanta. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL
Photo: Branden Camp

Williams led the entire first set.  In the second, Keys redeemed herself taking an early lead of 3-1, but Williams slowly chipped away at her momentum and force a tiebreaker. 

Keys and Williams tugged back-and-fourth for the final point of the second set, as Keys fought for a third set and a chance at victory. 

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Williams, who is fresh off a first-round Wimbledon loss to Atlanta-born Coco Gauff, said she hopes the high-level of talent in the exhibition match will eventually bring a women’s tournament to the Atlanta Open. She played in the exhibition match in 2017, where she also bested her opponent, Genie Bouchard, in straight sets.

“We want Atlanta to be a women’s tournament,” Williams said. “But it just hasn’t been given that opportunity. By playing in the exhibition, we are finding a way to get the women to Atlanta.”

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