History was made just a few hours ago down in Melbourne. Serena Williams and elder sister Venus met for a 28th time and for the Australian Open title. And after weeks of surprises, this one went to form with Serena rolling 6-4, 6-4 to win her seventh title there and more importantly, claim her 23rd career Grand Slam trophy, which puts her ahead of Steffi Graf for the Open Era lead. And makes her the undisputed GOAT in the Open Era.
“It’s such a great feeling to have 23,” Serena said. “It really feels great. Yeah, I’ve been chasing it for a really long time. It feels like, really long time.
“No better place to do it than Melbourne.”
Having first met in Australia 19 years ago as teens, Serena moves to 17-11 against Venus and 7-2 in Slam finals. And of late she’s dominated winning 8 of their 9 last. However, at the onset of today’s match, there was little domination. Instead., lots of errors, lots of breaks and lots of ho-hum tennis.
In fact, the two sisters traded breaks the first four games behind a myriad of unforced errors, double faults mixed in with some aces – both sisters cracked their serves pretty good combining for 17 aces on the night.
Things settled and Serena and her serve assumed control. Venus hung tough but was getting pulverized on her second serve and Serena took the first. And soon enough, got the break lead and wrapped up it handily in about 82 minutes.
Venus finished winning just 6 of 21 points on second serve, and was win the negative with 21 winners to 24 unforced.
Serena was much better on serve and smacked 27 winners to 23 unforced and was offered 11 chances to break, taking just 3.
“I think just in general we go for a lot, so there’s going to be some errors,” Venus said. “There’s no counter-punching. There’s no pushing. There’s just aggression. You’re going to see some great shots and at times you’re going to see some errors. But those errors are very close. They’re near-misses.”
It wasn’t a great match by any means. There was little to no drama and a bit awkwardness to the whole affair – would Venus really want to deny her little sister #23?
“I really felt like today, win or lose, I really felt like there was no way I could have lost today,” Serena said. “If I had of lost, it wouldn’t have been a loss because I know everything that Venus has gone through. I know how hard she works. In particular before this tournament, she worked so hard.”
For Venus, at 36 and the oldest player to start in the field, that’s an astonishing achievement reaching a Grand Slam final, and doing it no less than 7.5 years after her last one. Every year she’s at the top of the list for players I think will call it quits, but here she is, still winning, still captivating. What a champion.
“It was great to have an opportunity to play for the title,” Venus said. “That’s exactly where I want to be standing during these Grand Slams, is on finals day, having an opportunity. That’s the highlight of all this, is to be in that moment.
“I really enjoy seeing the name ‘Williams’ on the trophy. This is a beautiful thing.”
And speaking of champions, is there any doubt Serena is the GOAT? She’s 35, she just became the oldest Grand Slam champion in the Open Era (again), and playing well beyond Steffi and Chrissie, and she just keeps winning. Fourteen years after her first Australian Open, she does it again.
And she also returns to the No. 1 ranking which was left in the balance by Angelique Kerber who was thrashed by CoCo Vandeweghe earlier in the week. Now she’s one from Margaret Court’s all-time mark of 24, and does anything really think she won’t get it?
Oh yeah, she’s going to get it and then some.
So Serena’s legacy not just in tennis but as a woman in the sporting world continues to be written. And what a story it is.
ALL-TIME GRAND SLAM WOMEN’S TITLES
24 Margaret Court
23 Serena Williams
22 Steffi Graf
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