A Williams Family Affair for the Aussie Open Championship
For the first time since 2009, Venus And Serena Williams will battle it out for a grand slam championship. Both ladies played remarkable matches in the semifinals to make it to their eighth meeting in a major final. Here is what went down.
Venus was up first, battling surprise semifinalist and American peer, Coco Vandeweghe. Coco entered the match red hot, destroying number one player in the world and defending Australian Open Champion Angelique Kerber in the fourth round. Then to prove that was no fluke, Coco pummeled reigning French Open Champion, Garbine Muguruza, in straight sets, delivering a bagel (6-0) in the second set.
Venus, to her credit, had not lost a set coming into the semifinals. The only caveat was that Venus didn’t face a seeded player into the quarterfinals.
It was a tight first set between the two ladies, with each player trading breaks in the first two games. From then on It was battle to see who could hold their serves. Both Coco and Venus were able to do that leading them to a first set tiebreak. Venus was the first to blink giving Coco the early lead and Coco never looked back taking a very competitive opening set.
To start the second set, Venus was visibly angry with herself for losing a set she believed she was in full control of. That anger lead to Venus getting the break and pretty much dominating both off her serve and return games and ultimately taking the second set easily.
It all came down to the third set, where both Coco and Venus raised the level of their games. Venus was just too clutch, fending off break point after break point until she broke to win the match6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-3. Venus said of her defense, “At the end of the day, my defense was the most important part of the match. She never stopped swinging.”
After winning the last point an overjoyed Venus got on her knees and pranced around the court in disbelief. It’s been a long round for Venus who after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome an autoimmune disease that leads to exhaustion and swollen joint, became very inconsistent. Though Venus produced consistent results last season, no one expected her to make it to a grand slam final outside of Wimbledon.
Serena’s match was a bit more straightforward, with a 48-minute drumming of surprise semifinalist 34-year-old Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-2, 6-1. The two last played in 1998 when both were still teenagers. Lucic-Baroni’s made her emotional story known this past week in Melbourne and that is why Serena gave her a long hug at the end of the match, sympathizing with the long journey It took Mirjana to return to a grand slam semifinalist.
Serena vs Venus
Now Serena enters the match, as who she believes is her toughest opponent, her oldest sister Venus. The two have played a total of 27 times, with Serena leading the head-to-head 16-11. Serena has a 5-2 edge against Venus in grand slam finals. But it is hard to say that will be a real factor since they haven’t played in a decade.
As is always the case these days a lot will be on the line, when she plays her big sister in the finals. Serena will be looking to break Steffi Graff’s grand slam of 22. Serena could also regain her number one ranking if she were to win. In addition, should she win Serena would also have the most Australian Open titles ever in the women’s game.
It is difficult to predict who will win. Serena, like she is against every other player, is the heavy favorite. Serena has yet to drop a set and has looked sharp from the first round. Even though Serena is having some issues serving, she is for the most part winning her service games comfortably. Serena’ return game improved from the first week and Serena has been light on her feet, tracking every ball that has come to her side of the court.
With all that Venus also performed well and despite Serena’s 5-2 grand slam final lead over her sister it won’t be easy. Venus showed with her win over Coco showed that both her serve and movement are a force to be reckoned with. Coco bludgeoned the ball in their match but there was Venus, getting balls back in play. Venus hit 11 aces in her match against Vandeweghe. Some of those aces came at crucial moments in the matches, some unreturnable serves came at important moments as well.
Venus knows her sister and if she keeps that inspiring tennis that got her to the final, she’ll have a chance.
Serena in her interview after the match said, “I just feel like no matter what happens, we’ve won. A Williams is going to win this tournament.” At the end of the day the real winner will be the viewers. It seems very unlikely that tennis fans will be able to see many more battles between Venus and Serena. So, for now everyone should get their popcorn ready and witness one of the greatest sport’s story in history play out on one of tennis’s grandest stages.
*On the men’s side Rafa can cap on a spectacular championship weekend, if he is able to win his semifinal match against Grigor Dimitrov and face Roger Federer.