No.2 seed Jelena Ostapenko returned to the quarterfinals of the Rothesay Classic after defeating Venus Williams 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 in the Round of 16 on Thursday in Birmingham. The victory is the Latvian's first over Williams in three meetings.

Ostapenko will face Poland's Magdalena French next. The 72nd-ranked qualifier defeated No.8 seed Sorana Cirstea 6-3, 6-7(1), 6-4. 

Wimbledon wildcards for Venus Williams, Svitolina

In the marquee meeting between two former Slam champions, Williams earned the early advantage. The five-time Wimbledon champion came into the match on the heels of a grueling three-hour effort to defeat Camila Giorgi to secure her first win on grass since 2021. She held a 2-0 advantage in the head-to-head against Ostapenko, with both wins coming in 2017. Their last meeting was a lengthy 7-5, 6-7(3), 7-5 win at the 2017 WTA Finals in Singapore. 

After pressuring the Ostapenko serve early, Williams broke for a 3-2 lead with the help of an outstanding lunging backhand slice that landed as a perfect drop shot. But the 2017 French Open champion responded with an immediate break at love. 

From there, Ostapenko found the range on her return, overpowering Williams from the baseline to seal the opening set after 35 minutes. Williams did not win a point behind her second serve in the first set, going 0 for 8.

After a pair of holds to move the score to 2-2 in the second set, Williams took an off-court medical timeout. When play resumed, Ostapenko broke serve immediately to lead 3-2, and she extended that lead to 5-3. Then, serving to stay in the match, Williams saved a match point to hold in a lengthy four-deuce game to close the gap to 5-4. Having seen her chance to close out the match come and go, Ostapenko played an error-strewn game to give Williams the break back and level the set at 5-5.

"She's a great champion and that hasn't gone anywhere," Ostpaenko said. "That's always going to be with her. It's great to play against players like her. She's an idol to a lot of people so it was very special. Maybe that's why I got a little bit tight in the second set."

In all, Williams would win six consecutive games to not only take the match into an improbable third set but lead by 2-0 in the decider. 

Ostapenko responded to Williams' surge with one of her own. From 2-0 down, Ostapenko responded with an immediate break to end Williams' six-game run. After coming through a pressure-filled service game to save break point and hold to 3-3, Ostapenko broke Williams again to lead 4-3 and closed out the victory with her third break of the final set to close out the win after 2 hours and 26 minutes.