Venus and Serena Williams will meet in a Grand Slam final for the ninth time after the American sisters came through their semi-finals in Melbourne.
Impossibly and improbably, Serena and Venus Williams, now 35 and 36 years old, respectively, are in a Grand Slam final once again, set to face off on the sport’s biggest stage for the first time in nine years and doing so at the Australian Open, the tournament where they kicked off their professional rivalry all the way back in 1998. This is their ninth meeting in a Slam final, their first since Wimbledon in 2009 and will be a fitting coda and deserved victory lap for two of the most remarkable careers sports have ever seen.
And, oh yeah, sentiment and schlock aside, one of them is either going to break the record for most Grand Slams in the modern era (Serena would earn No.23, moving beyond Steffi Graf to one behind Margaret Court’s 24) or the longest gap between Grand Slam wins (Venus would win her eighth title, nine years after winning her last). You know, no biggie.
Eight years ago, when Venus and Serena faced off in that Wimbledon final, I wrote that we should appreciate the moment, as every time the sisters played on a big stage might be the last. (I was right too – until this morning.) The Williams’ always had other interests and there was every reason to believe that by 2011 or 2012, both could be off the tour, doing what they wanted without the stresses of the most physically and mentally demanding sport there is. This wasn’t some far-flung theory either. Richard Williams had predicted as much. Thank goodness he, and everybody else, was wrong.
Thirteenth seed Venus, 36, beat fellow American Coco Vandeweghe 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 6-3 to reach her first major final since 2009.
World number two Serena, 35, saw off unseeded Croat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-2 6-1 in the second semi-final.
Serena is attempting to win an Open-era record 23rd Grand Slam singles title.
It would also be a seventh Australian Open victory for the younger Williams sister, while Venus hopes to win an eighth major title, first in Melbourne and first since Wimbledon in 2008.
Saturday will be their first Grand Slam final against each other since Wimbledon 2009 when Serena won in straight sets.
"It is unbelievable to watch Serena play tennis - the way she hits the ball and the competitor she is," Venus Williams said after the first semi-final.
"It would be a dream to see her on the opposite side of the net on Saturday."
Speaking after her win, Serena said: "I am really proud of Venus - she is a total inspiration. I am really happy for her and to be in the final together is a dream for us.
"She is my toughest opponent, no-one has ever beaten me as much as Venus.
"I feel no matter what that we have both won after all we have been through. I know a Williams is going to win this tournament.".