Serena Williams defeated her older sister Venus in straight sets to capture her seventh Australian Open title and secure an Open-era record 23rd Grand Slam singles that placed her second on the all-time list.
Serena, 35, who last won the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup in 2015, triumphed 6-4, 6-4 in what was her second Australian Open final where she faced her sister, to regain the No. 1 ranking from German Angelique Kerber and surpass Steffi Graf on the all-time list of major winners in the Open era.
Following her latest win, Serena, with 23 Grand Slam titles, is surpassed only by Australia’s Margaret Court who won 24 Grand Slam titles. But Serena is now the oldest Open-era female grand slam champion.
“I am trying to stay up here as long as I can,” she said when accepting the trophy, according to ABC (Australia). “I missed it last year.”
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Venus congratulated her younger sister immediately after she lost.
“Congratulations Serena on number 23,” said 36-year-old Venus who played to win her first major title in eight years. “I have been right there with you, some of them I lost right there against you.”
“It’s been an awesome win,” she continued, according to the BBC. “I’m enormously proud of you. You mean the world to me. I, God willing, would love to come back. Thank you for all the love.”
“Your win has always been my win, I think that you know that. Those time that I couldn’t be there, didn’t get there, you were there.”
At 36, Venus is the oldest Australian Open finalist in the Open-era.
Serena also lavished praises on her older sister whom she beat in the 2003 final at Melbourne Park. She described Venus as an “amazing person.”
“There’s no way I would be at 23 without her. There’s no way I’d be at one without her. She’s my inspiration,” Serena said. “She’s the only reason I’m standing here today. She’s the only reason the Williams sisters exist. Thank you for inspiring me. Every time you won this week, I felt like I got a win too.”
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Venus lost the match before a friendly 15,000-strong crowd at the Rod Laver Arena. The crowd cheered her efforts, although Serena went into the match as the clear favorite.
It was also clear from the start that the bond of sisterhood wouldn’t soften Serena’s determination to demolish the opponent. While Venus might have won hearts with her easy and friendly manners, chatting with the umpire and the young official who flipped the coin, Serena remained grim-faced and focused on the task ahead.
Serena smashed her racket in frustration in the opening set, receiving an immediate code violation. She broke Venus’ serve in the first and third games but gave up the advantage immediately through three double faults. Under pressure from Venus, Serena recorded 13 unforced errors in the opening five games.
The turning point for the six-time champion came after she took advantage of her sixth break point of the set with a strong return to lead 4-3. She managed to sustain the advantage with a strong service game for 5-3. But Venus had looked like she would make a comeback during the third game of the second set when, down 0-40, she won five points consecutively to lead 2-1.
The crowd cheered in support when Venus forced her sister to serve out the match. But Serena came back from 15-30 to earn match point and broke into jubilation when Venus shot wide.
The occasion was the ninth time the Williams sisters were meeting in a major final and Serena’s seventh win against her sister who has won twice.
Venus has won five Wimbledon and two U.S. Open titles, and it was her first major final since 2009. When asked how she felt about losing her first major final since 2009, she said she was not too disappointed because “I’ve been here before [and] I really enjoy seeing the name ‘Williams’ on the trophy. This is a beautiful thing.”
[Featured Image by Dita Alangkara/AP Images]