Serena and Venus Williams will meet for the 28th time when they face each other in the Australian Open final on Saturday.
It’s hard to find two players that have dominated women’s tennis like the indomitable Williams’ sisters have and to paraphrase Aristotle, they are greater than the sum of their parts.
Between them, if you include their doubles titles, they have amassed an incredible 43 grand slam titles. The perfect storm of family and competition spurred them both to great heights and despite their rivalry, the sisters remain close off court.
Now, they face off in a grand slam final for the ninth time on courts they are all too familiar with. Ironically, it was at Melbourne Park in 1998 when the pair first met each other on the professional circuit in the second round of the Australian Open. Incidentally, this means Saturday’s clash will mean their rivalry has spanned over three decades.
On that day, a 17-year-old Venus edged her 16-year-old sister in straight sets after a first set tiebreaker. While Serena would win her first grand slam at the US Open the following year, she would have to wait four years to finally get the better of her sister in a slam, breaking her duck at the French Open final in 2002.
Fast forward to 2017 and it’s amazing to think that Venus, at 36-years-young, is still mixing it with the best of women’s tennis. What makes it all the more impressive is she has been suffering from Sjogren’s Syndrome for the latter part of her career.
After withdrawing from several events due to illness, Venus was eventually diagnosed with the autoimmune disease in mid-2011 which forced her onto medication and a vegan diet. The aftermath saw her drop to 103 in the rankings and seemingly on her way out of tennis.
Venus’ plight also seemed to affect her younger sister as well, as Serena was largely unsuccessful in her return from injury in the latter part of 2011, failing to win a grand slam.
In terms of their head-to-head clashes, Serena unsurprisingly leads that statistic 16-11. However, there is not much to be gained from looking at recent results, as the duo have only met three times since 2014.
They met more frequently when they were both at the peak of their powers, once playing each other for a stretch of four consecutive grand slam finals.
Despite Serena’s favourite tag, one thing is for sure: Venus is back to fighting form and will be no pushover for Serena. While Serena no doubt has the physical edge over her sister, Venus knows how to beat her. It should come as no surprise that no-one else has defeated Serena 11 times.
Fans can look forward to a powerful display of hitting as these two veterans prove to everyone once again that they are worthy of legendary status.
Whether Serena grabs the record everyone saw coming or Venus snatches her first slam since 2008, you can be sure there will be plenty tears on the court on Saturday. But more importanty, either way, the Williams family will continue their legacy.