BY: DANIEL PETERSON
Serena Williams was unaware that her Australian Open final victory against Venus Williams (her sister) would return her back to No. 1.
She and her sister first visited Melbourne in 1998. As teenagers with braids on their hair and braces on their teeth, was a clear indication that they were special, but didn’t know how far their confidence and talents would carry them.
Though 19 years later, the braces and beads are long gone, the sisters’ power tennis remains. Also, though, Richard Williams (their father), in one of the great projection in sports, clearly saw the future when he stated the younger, fiercer Serena would at a point be a better player, perhaps he didn’t realize how wide the gap would eventually become.
Williams’ finals are always emotionally complicated affair, but it’s great to admire how the older William has so often nursed the frustrations.
With the Australian Open win, Serena (35) became the oldest woman to secure a ‘Grand Slam singles title’ in the Open era, tarnishing her own last year set record.
“Congrats Serena, on No. 23,” said Venus. “I have been there with you severally. Some of them, I lost there against you, I guess that is weird, but it has been something awesome. Your win has always been mine too, I think you understand that. All the time I wouldn’t be there, couldn’t be there, did not get there, you were there. I am greatly proud of you as you mean the world to me.”
Serena replied to her sister. “I wouldn’t have anything without her. She is my inspiration. She is the only reason I am standing here today, and she’s the only reason for Williams sisters’ existence. So thank you, sister, for inspiring me to work hard and for your inspirations to me to be the best player. Every moment you won this week, I too felt like I have got to win.”
The final was edgy, and quality of play fluctuated considerably, but Serena’s returns ultimately determined the match.
“Serena Williams always expects a difficult match against Venus, but I don’t think if she expected it to be that extremely tight from the start,” said Serena’s couch.
Venus, remains one of the best players of this reign, but she hasn’t won a major singles title since 2008 when she defeated Serena to win Wimbledon. In the following years, Venus was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, (an autoimmune disorder), which limited her training and led to her 2011 deterioration from the top 100.
But still, Venus has adapted to manage her health challenges and she could be the talk of the day, were it not for her younger sister, defeating her in the finals.