Williams, who hasn’t won a title since claiming Kaohsiung in 2016, was aiming to win her first match since reaching the quarterfinals in Birmingham, where she was outclassed by French Open champion Ashleigh Barty. She later bowed out to 15-year-old Cori “Coco” Gauf in her Wimbledon opener and to Bethanie Mattek-Sands in San Jose.
After earning the first break of the match to go up 4-3, Suarez Navarro needed five set points to close out the set. At 2-2 in the second set, the 30-year-old Spaniard took off, reeling off four straight games to take the match in straight sets. Before this match, Venus had won their last five encounters, dropping just one set.
Next, Suarez Navarro faces Anett Kontaveit, who battled past former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, on Monday. Sharapova had been awarded a wild card into the event and hasn’t won a match since falling to Angelique Kerber in the Mallorca second round.
Venus heads to Cincinnati next, where she received a wild card into the Premier 5 tournament. Ending 2017 ranked fifth, she had since dropped to No. 56, her lowest standing since 2011 when she ended that season ranked No. 103.