January 28, 2017 04:45 pm
Serena Williams has captured her 23rd major singles title with a straight-sets defeat of her sister Venus in the women’s Australian Open final on Rod Laver Arena.
Both Serena and Venus displayed nerves in what was their second Australian Open final where they have faced each other across the net, but it was the younger of the siblings who triumphed 6-4, 6-4.
Serena, who has reclaimed the number one ranking from last year’s victor Angelique Kerber, last held aloft the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup in 2015 and Saturday evening’s win is her seventh in a singles final at Melbourne Park.
She now moves above Steffi Graf with the most singles majors in the Open era, but still sits behind Australia’s Margaret Court (24) on the all-time list.
Among countless other records, Serena - at 35 years and 125 days - also extended her own record as the oldest woman to win a major in the open era.
Serena highlighted how much the Australian Open title meant to her when accepting the winner’s trophy.
“I am trying to stay up here as long as I can,” she said. “I missed it last year.”
Serena also chose to heap praise on Venus, who she beat in the 2003 final at Melbourne Park, describing her older sister as “an amazing person”.
“There is no way I would be at 23 without her,” she said.
“Thank you Venus for inspiring me to be the best player that I could be and inspire me to work hard every time you won this week I felt like I got a win too.”
Venus was in a jovial mood when she congratulated Serena on her victory after the match.
“Congratulations Serena on number 23. I have been right there with you, some of them I lost right there against you,” Venus said with a laugh.
The Williams sisters were meeting for the ninth time in a major final - but first since 2009 - and this was Serena’s seventh success in the contests that mattered most.
After breaking Venus’ serve in the opening game of the match, Serena banished any suspicions she might go easy on her sister when she obliterated her racquet after being on the wrong end of a net-cord winner from her greatest friend and rival.
The second seed received an automatic code violation for the outburst but swiftly took out her frustration on Venus with a ferocious forehand return winner the very next point.
But after breaking Venus again, Serena coughed up three double faults the next game to immediately give up her advantage.
Serena finally held for the first time in the sixth game, broke Venus once more and closed out the opening set with her seventh ace.
With a 20-from-20 record in major singles finals after taking the first set, Serena could see the finish line but eyeing her own watershed win, the 36-year-old Venus stayed with her for much of the second set.
Alas, women’s tennis’s fiercest competitor gained her fourth break at 4-3 before closing out the match after one hour and 22 minutes to deny Venus a long-awaited first Open crown and eighth career major.
After losing last year’s final to Kerber, and then the French Open decider to Garbine Muguruza, Serena now holds two of the four majors - Wimbledon and the Australian Open.