Australian Open 2017: Venus Williams vs Serena Williams - Who will be the champion in Melbourne?
A preview to the all Williams final in Melbourne and their previous Grand Slam meetings.
The Australian Open women's final has been decided, with the Williams Sisters set to compete on Saturday in Melbourne.
Serena and Venus Williams started their 2017 season on a rather disappointing note at the ASB Classic, Auckland. Being placed in the opposing halves, fans might have anticipated an all Williams final, however, both of them lost in the second round itself, to the likes of Madison Brengle and Naomi Osaka.
When they came to Melbourne, the mindsets of both the ladies were competitively different. Serena had set her eyes to take back what was once hers - the World No. 1 crown, while Venus was looking to find her flair in Australia.
And as it turns out, both sisters got what they wanted. With Angelique Kerber's exit, the path to the final became considerably easier for world no. 2, Serena Williams. As for Venus, she had a sensational run in Melbourne over the course of last two weeks, proving that she still has what it takes to win big.
Considering their respective campaigns in the Open, it is fair to say that both of them have enjoyed an easy route to the final.
Venus didn't lose a set up until the semi-final, where she was up against her compatriot Coco Vandeweghe. Having lost the first set, she moved on to stage a comeback and clinch the finals ticket with 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-3. Prior to that, she edged past players like Ying-Ying Duan, Mona Barthel, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Stefanie Voegele.
As for Serena, she could've faced problems against players like Belinda Bencic and Lucie Safarova in the opening rounds. But with the help of a strong service game and a massive forehand, she sailed comfortably to the final, without dropping a single set. Her last couple of encounters came against Johanna Konta and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, whom she defeated in straight sets, without a hitch.
With this feat, Serena is just a win closer to becoming the world no. 1 again, but given that Venus has found her rhythm in Melbourne, she will not have it easy.
Williams vs Williams rivalry
The rivalry between the two players is something that's not easy to understand. Both of them have spent their childhood years training together, and have also played doubles in many tournaments over the years. Moreover, in the last decade, the two players dominated the tour, with the fans getting to witness several final matches between the two sisters.
In fact, the duo have faced each other no less than 27 times in the circuit, of which, 14 of them came in Grand Slams. And in those 14 Grand Slam encounters, eight of them took place in the finals.
In a way, things have come full circle in Melbourne for the two sisters. In the second round of 1998 Australian Open, Venus and Serena started what went on to become one of the greatest and most entertaining rivalries of all time. On that day, the current world no. 17 won the match 7-6(4), 6-1 to draw the first blood.
That was the time when Venus was in her prime, and went on to win successive matches on the tour. Their next big encounter took place in the semi final of 2000 Wimbledon, where it was Venus once again, to win the match in straight sets, and eventually, she went on to become the Champion.
A similar feat in the 2001 US Open too, where the two ladies met in the finals at Flushing Meadows. Venus won the game in straight sets to clinch yet another Grand Slam title.
However, things became a lot more interesting after that, as Serena made history by achieving the feat known as 'Serena Slam'. Between the 2002 French Open and 2003 Australian Open, the then world no. 1 won all the four Grand Slams. And as one might have guessed already, it was none other than Venus whom she defeated in the finals of all the four Championship matches.
In fact, in the Wimbledon of the very same season, it was a deja-vu of the 2002 finals. Serena successfully defended her title by defeating Venus once again, for the second time in a row at the SW 19.
After that, they met in the fourth round of 2005 US Open, where Venus won in straight sets. In 2008, things became slightly more interesting. The two met in the final of the '08 Wimbledon, where Venus won the Championship. The two players once again met in the quarterfinal of the US Open a few months later, where it was Serena who won the match and eventually crowned the US Open Champion.
Thereafter, with the advent of new players, Venus's form went down but Serena managed to keep her good form going. This led to a lower seed for the elder Williams in subsequent tournaments, which in turn meant early meetings between the duo in the Grand Slams. The 2009 Wimbledon final was the last time when fans got to witness the two sisters battling it out for the trophy. It was Serena then, who won the match in straight sets.
Since then, they have met only twice in Grand Slams, none of which were in the finals. They met in the latter stages of 2015 Wimbledon and US Open, where Serena triumphed over her sibling and win her second ‘Serena Slam’.
Serena leads 16-11 in the head to head tally which includes six wins in the finals of a Grand Slam, compared to Venus' two wins. Another factor to be considered here is the form of the two players. Serena is capable of putting up a fight and winning big, as we've seen over the last few seasons. On the other hand, Venus has lacked consistency - something which has prevented her from winning more Slams.
Whoever might be the winner here, this is surely going to be an entertaining match, and maybe, the last time we get to witness an all-Williams final in a Grand Slam.