Serena Williams ensured she holds the open era record for most singles grand slams with a comfortable win over her sister Venus Williams in the Australian Open final. Venus fought admirably but it was a fairly routine win for Serena who settled well after early nerves, winning in straight sets 6-4 6-4.
Like the men’s tournament, it was a good tournament for older players – many of whom are very comfortable on faster courts. While Venus was also helped by a weak draw to make it to the final, there’s no doubt that the conditions also favoured her. It seemed like the match would be over fairly quickly when Serena broke in game 1 but she looked far from impressive early on, twice gifting back break leads. “I think just in general we go for a lot, so there’s going to be some errors. 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.” Venus said of the early part of the match. Breaking once more at 3-3, Serena wouldn’t give it away this time and would remain solid on serve from then on. Serving for the set, she hit 2 aces to move 1 set away from history.
Venus had the advantage of serving first in the second set but it was always felt lie she was holding on rather than controlling the matchup. She avoided the match spiralling out of control by holding from 0-40 at 1-1 but wouldn’t be able to hold off Serena a few games later, with Serena hitting a backhand winner to get the break. Serena didn’t allow a single break point opportunity in the second set but had to be careful serving for the championship. She could have got nervy at the enormity of the situation when down 15-30 but won the last three points to win her seventh Australian Open and take back the World No.1 spot from last year’s winner Angelique Kerber.
Serena getting the record is an amazing story in itself but doing so against her sister, a legend in her own right, makes it even more special. “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.” she said. “We feel so fortunate to have this opportunity to be the ones that can do it, you know. Venus and I work so hard. Still to this day we work side-by-side each other at practice. We motivate each other. Like I said on the court, every time she won her match, I felt obligated to win, I’ve got to win, too.”
Serena still needs 1 to equal and 2 to surpass the overall record of Margaret Court, who won only 11 of her 24 slam titles in the Open Era. The value of the other 13 was put into question by Serena’s long term coach Patrick Mouratoglou. “With all the respect to Margaret Court, it’s another era, of course the record is there, and we definitely want to beat it, but there is a professional era, and the record was Steffi Graf.” he said.
Both women should be back in time for Indian Wells and Serena will be desperate to pick up her first title there since their lengthy boycott of the tournament.