Serena beats Venus to win Australian Open

Serena now has a record 23 grand slam wins.

Greg Garber, (via The Undefeated) | 1/28/2017, 10:20 a.m.
Serena now has a record 23 grand slam wins.
Serena Williams won her seventh Australian Open title and 23rd Grand Slam by besting her sister Venus in Saturday’s final. (AP Photo by Dita Alangkara via The Undefeated)

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Serena Williams is alone at the top when it comes to Grand Slam achievement in the Open era.

By defeating her sister Venus Williams 6-4, 6-4 in the Australian Open final Saturday, Serena Williams won her 23rd major title, breaking the record she had shared with Steffi Graf.

Serena Williams has experienced some high-anxiety moments in major matches, and she did again on Saturday. In the early going, she smashed her racket in frustration after falling down on the baseline, and she served three tentative double-faults in a span of four points.

However, she soon settled down — and made history. Serena closed the match on her first championship point, charging the net with a forehand that Venus could not successfully return.

As difficult as it must have been to play against her sister, the enormous reward will likely help compensate for any mental anguish.

It’s Serena Williams’ seventh Australian Open title and second in the past three tournaments in Melbourne. She also has seven titles at Wimbledon, six at the US Open and three at the French Open.

She remains one Grand Slam championship behind the all-time leader, Margaret Court, who has 24 titles in the Open and amateur eras. Court, an Australian who won 13 majors before the dawn of the Open era in 1968, was among those applauding the Williams sisters at Rod Laver Arena.

Saturday’s victory also means Williams will regain the world No. 1 ranking from Angelique Kerber, who was eliminated in the fourth round in Melbourne. Next week will be Williams’ 310th at the top of tennis.

Venus Williams, a seven-time Slam champion, was in the final of the Australian Open for the first time since 2003.

In an on-set interview with ESPN, Serena Williams received a letter of congratulations and a pair of shoes from NBA Hall of Famer and legendary No. 23 Michael Jordan. One shoe was red and black — the Chicago Bulls‘ colors — and the other was a more Serena-esque pink.

“Thank you, Michael. I can’t believe I’m saying thank you Michael Jordan,” Williams said. “He’s the greatest.”

After the match, the sisters expressed their love and respect for each other in moving speeches to the crowd.

“Serena Williams … that’s my little sister, guys,” said Venus, who was up first, laughing. “Congratulations, Serena, on No. 23. I have been right there with you.

“Your win has always been my win. I think you know that I’m enormously proud of you. You mean the world to me.”

Serena returned the sentiment.

“I really would like to take this moment to congratulate Venus,” she said. “She’s an amazing person. There’s no way I’d be at 23 without her. There’s no way I’d be at one.”

Venus Williams made her deepest run in a Slam draw since the 2009 Wimbledon final, when she also lost to Serena. But to compete in this crucible, Venus needed to serve fairly flawlessly. Her serve was broken four times Saturday.