Serena Williams beat older sister Venus in the Australian Open final on Saturday, setting a new record with 23 Grand Slam wins in the Open Era. Their combined ages of 35 and 36 respectively made it the oldest final in the Open Era. The 6-4, 6-4 win resulted in Serena breaking the 22 Grand Slam tie she held with Steffi Graf and made her the oldest woman to win a major. The victory also cemented her No. 1 Ranking that was lost when she fell in the U.S. Open semifinals to Angelique Kerber.
The Williams sisters last played against each other in 2009 in a grand slam final. Of the 28 meetings they have played, Serena has won 17. The pair has dominated the women’s tennis scene for almost 20 years and have remained close throughout the years.
Despite the loss, Venus immediately walked over to her sister’s side of the court for a hug after the match. The older sister gracefully accepted the loss and said she enjoys seeing the name Williams on the trophy.
Serena recognized the special bond the two share in her remarks regarding the final. She thanked her sister and called her an inspiration stating, “There’s no way I would be at 23 without her ー there’s no way I would be at one without her. Thank you Venus for inspiring me to the be best player I can be and inspiring me to work hard.”
The sisters have also leaned on each other throughout Venus’s diagnosis and reality of living with Sjogren’s syndrome. The autoimmune disease can cause excessive fatigue and joint pain which has impacted her ability to play at times. When Venus took a doctor’s advice to begin following a raw vegan diet, Serena adopted the same diet in solidarity. Even though the two consider themselves “cheagans” or cheating vegans, Venus believes adopting a plant-based diet has helped save her tennis career.
Serena’s new record has made her one of the greatest tennis players alive. As for the Greatest of All Time Debate (GOAT), many consider it to be over now that she’s reached 23 Grand Slams. Despite making history, she’ll need to pass 24 to beat the current record holder, Margaret Court, who remains ahead of her with overall Grand Slam single titles that span the pre Open and the Open Era. Regardless, it was definitely a match to remember.