Serena defeats Venus to win Open era record 23rd Grand Slam singles title

January 28, 2017 04:40 AM

By Sally Milano,

Serena Williams defeated her older sister Venus, 6-4, 6-4, Saturday in the Australian Open women’s singles final to win her record seventh singles title in Melbourne and a history-making 23rd Grand Slam singles title.

The 23 Slams are the most in the Open era by any player, man or woman, moving Serena past Steffi Graf atop the record books. The American legend is now just one win behind Margaret Smith Court’s all-time record of 24 major singles wins.

Courtesy of her victory Down Under, Serena will also regain the world’s No. 1 ranking from Angelique Kerber on Monday, a position she had held for 186 straight weeks, before Kerber became the world’s top player after winning the 2016 US Open.

"Words can't describe how happy I am for this moment, especially here in Melbourne," Serena told ESPN in an interview following the final. "[Venus and I] started here. This was my first Grand Slam, and to get to No. 23 here is really rather special. And against Venus, as well. My first big match was against her right on this stadium court, so it was weird, going into this match. There were just so many similarities. It's just all full circle."

Nerves seemed to play a part at the beginning of Saturday's match, with the players exchanging breaks of serve in the first four games and in five of the first seven. Serena took a 4-3 lead in the seventh game of the first set and went on to win, 6-4.

In the second set, both players held serve until the seventh game, when Serena broke Venus and took another 4-3 lead. She held on and closed out the match, 6-4, in one hour, 22 minutes.

Saturday’s Australian Open final was the 28th career meeting between the Williams sisters and the 15th time they have faced each other in Grand Slam play, including nine times in major finals. Their first Grand Slam matchup came in the second round of the 1998 Australian Open (won by Venus), and they also played in the 2003 Australian Open final (won by Serena).

Overall, Serena now leads Venus, 17-11, in head-to-head matchups. She holds a 10-5 record against her older sister at the majors and improved her record to 7-2 against Venus in Grand Slam finals.

Playing Venus in the final had extra special meaning to the 23-time Grand Slam champion, who, in addition to winning the Australian Open seven times, has captured three French Open championships, seven Wimbledon titles and six US Open trophies.

"It was a celebration for everything we've done in sport, for everything we've done for women, for everything we've tried to do to inspire people," said Serena, who did not drop a set en route to the title. "It didn't matter who won or who lost. I felt like we both were able to win today by just making it this far.

"We both probably weren't favorites heading into this tournament, but it just really proves that as long as you keep going and keep fighting, you never give up, and you just never stop, you can conquer anything that you want to."

The Williams sisters combined age of 71 makes the Australian Open women’s final the oldest in the Open era. At age 35, Serena is the oldest woman to win a major, while 36-year-old Venus is the oldest Australian Open finalist in the Open era.

Venus, a seven-time Grand Slam champion, was playing in her first major final in nearly eight years, having last finished runner-up to Serena in the 2009 Wimbledon final. Currently ranked 17th in the WTA rankings, she will move up to No. 11 in the world on Monday.


Also Saturday, Bob and Mike Bryan came up just short in pursuit of their 17th career Grand Slam men's doubles title. The Bryans, the No. 3 seeds, fell to No. 4 seeds Henri Kontinen and John Peers, 7-5, 7-5.

On Sunday, American Abigail Spears will partner with Juan Sebastian Cabal in the mixed doubles final against No. 2 seeds Sania Mirza and Ivan Dodig. Spears is going for her first Grand Slam title.