By Ros Satar

  • Serena Williams [2] def. Venus Williams [13] 6-4 6-4
  • Wins her 23rd Grand Slam title – and moves to just one behind Margaret Court
  • Returns to World No. 1
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – The record chase is back on as Serena Williams edged her sister Venus Williams in straight sets to win her 23rd Grand Slam title.

 

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Serena Williams [2] def. Venus Williams [13] 6-4 6-4

There are no two ways about it – the tension when Serena and Venus Williams players face each other over the net always makes for twists and turns in their matches – and this one was no exception. It is not as though they need to suss each other’s games out. Venus Williams may have been broken right out of the gate, but the pair would embark on an edgy break-fest before finally Venus was the first to hold.

The first set saw the net-cord rapidly frustrate Serena to the point of smashing her racquet as she slipped trying to make a flipped up ball, and in truth throughout most of the first set she looked the most on edge. She broke Venus, and then delivered perhaps her most comfortable hold in the match, holding on to the advantage before battering her serve game to love for the first set.

People may call a straight sets win a comprehensive victory but if anything the second set was more competitive. It was noticeable that Venus was coming inside the baseline, but lacked the forward momentum to really push Serena – often netting easy power forehands while all the while her little sister started to settle. All it took was one break converting on her sixth chance in the second set, urging herself on to fight on match point. She needed just the one as Venus Williams pirouetted at full stretch sending a ball out.

The celebrations may have seemed muted – Venus crossed to her side of the net for a warm hug before giving past champion Li Na a run for her money in the great speech department. There is no doubt both of them have been inspirational to many people. And Serena is one of the greatest, if not the greatest athlete of all time, and most certainly the greatest tennis player of all time.

Talking about her sister’s achievement in her post-match press conference, she said: “[23 is] a great number. I know she would like to have a little more. Who wouldn’t? It was a great moment. I’m very happy that she’s been able to, you know, get to number 23 because there’s 22 ahead of that that she also earned, and she earned it.”

If we take a look at Venus – after years struggling with injuries and illness, she reached two quarter-finals in 2015 (Australian Open and US Open), the Wimbledon semi-final in 2016 and now a Slam final in 2017.

She told the press after her match: “I feel motivated to continue, to continue to go out there and hit the ball the way I know I can. There’s only things I can improve on, to be honest, and to build on. I feel I played very well this week, pulled a lot of things out of my pocket. I got more stuff in my pocket. Get it out.”

In her on-court speech, Serena praised her sister and credited her with being the drivinfgforce behind her own success:

“There’s no way I would be at 23 without her. There’s no way I would be at 1 without her … she’s my inspiration.”

Later in her press conference she spoke about the significance of #23 but obviously played down the speculation that she would make a run for a Calendar Slam, having achieved two ‘Serena Slams’ (holding all four majors at the same time), and the chase to overtake Margaret Court’s all time record.

Serena said: “It’s such a great feeling to have 23. I’ve been chasing it for a really long time. It feels like, really long time. When it got on my radar, I knew I had an opportunity to get there, and I’m here. I’m here. It’s a great feeling. No better place to do it than Melbourne.

“I never had a number [in mind]. That’s the beauty of it. When I started this journey, I just wanted to win a Grand Slam. Then I just wanted to win. Every time I step on the court, I want to win. My first Grand Slam started here, and getting to 23 here, but playing Venus, it’s stuff that legends are made of. I couldn’t have written a better story.

“One thing I learned in the past is you have to enjoy it. That’s the beauty of winning Australia, you have a few months to relax. If you win the French, it’s like back-to-back-to-back-toback. Australia, you have time to enjoy the moment before the next Grand Slam. I don’t think about [a calendar slam] either. So just one at a time.”

It is hard to imagine a tennis world without them – but given Venus’ progression and Serena’s proximity to confirming that she is the Greatest of All Time, male or female, perhaps we don’t have to fear it just yet.

 

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