There will be plenty of emotions on the grand stage of Rod Laver arena in Melbourne on Saturday for tennis legends Venus & Serena Williams. For the ninth time in their illustrious careers, the sisters will face each other for the chance of grabbing a Grand Slam title.
For Venus the start of 2017 did not go as planned, having to pull out of her very first tournament, the ASB Classic in Aukland due to injury, the 36-year old former World No.1 returned with a purpose. Her draw here at the Australian Open was kind and she dispatched Kateryna Kozlova, Stefanie Voegele, Duan Ying Ying, Mona Barthel and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Her semi-final victory over fellow American Coco Vandeweghe was the only match that stretched to a 3-setter, having won all the previous in comfortable straight sets. “It’s always very satisfying to be able to get through in such a big match against an opponent who was just on fire,” said Venus.
For Serena, the path to the final was a bit tougher, to say the least, having to face former top-10 players Belinda Bencic and Lucie Safarova in the opening two rounds, but the six-time Australian Open Champion passed with flying colors. She then recorded victories over fellow American Nicole Gibbs, Barbora Strycova, Britain’s No.1 Johanna Konta and the sentimental favorite Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. “I’m really proud of myself here.” Serena said. “I feel like a lot of people were kind of writing me off, but it is what it is. I do best when I’m that underdog I guess,”
Serena, who holds a 16-11 advantage in their head-to-head meetings, will not be an underdog in this final having won their most recent final at 2009 Wimbledon. And she has plenty of added incentive to set aside her sisterly love for this occasion as she is eyeing a return to the world No.1 ranking, her 7th Australian Open title, and more significantly, competing for her 23rd Grand Slam title, which would surpass the record number achieved by Steffi Graf.
“I just feel like it’s been a while. This probably is the moment of our careers so far,” said Serena, who is delighted with the opportunity that’s arisen. “I never lost hope of us being able to play each other in a final, although it was hard because we’re usually on the same side of the draw. Whenever we’re on the opposite side, I always definitely feel a lot better.”
“When I’m playing on the court with her, I think I’m playing, like, the best competitor in the game,” Venus said. “I don’t think I’m chump change either, you know. I can compete against any odds. No matter what, I get out there and I compete.”
It’s the one time that I really genuinely feel like no matter what happens, I can’t lose, she can’t lose,” Serena said.
While only one Williams will hold the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup on Saturday evening, there is a sense that neither sister will leave as a loser, and that’s what legends are made of.