It is something out of a fairytale. Who would have foreseen that after 20 years of domination, Venus and Serena Williams would meet in the Australian Open final where it all started. In 1998, the two would meet for the first time in the second round here in Melbourne, with Venus winning 7-6(4), 6-1. A lot has changed since then. Serena would go on to be the first of them to win a Grand Slam singles title. Fast forward to the present-day and she currently holds 22 Slam singles titles. Venus would go on to be the first of them to reach number one. Today she stands with 7 Grand Slam singles titles, the second-most of any active player. Both have had their fair share of struggles, but at 3:30am E.T. the two will face-off for the ultimate prize: champion of the 2017 Australian Open.
Breakdown of Rivalry:
Last meeting: 2015 U.S. Open Quarterfinal Serena def. Venus 6-2, 1-6, 6-3
The Case for Venus:
On paper, it may look like Venus is destined for the second place, but here’s an interesting fact that bodes well for her: the two have split their last two meetings on hardcourt. In 2014 when Serena was still the number one player, Venus stunned her in three sets. She nearly upset Serena again in 2015 when they met in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open losing 6-3 in the third with a break of serve separating the two.
Venus has played some incredible tennis this past fortnight. She has only dropped one set and that was in her semifinal match over fellow American Coco Vandeweghe. In that match Venus fired 11 aces, and saved 12 out of 13 break points. These stats reveal that she is serving and winning the most valuable points and can get herself out of trouble with a flick of the wrist. Compared to Serena, Venus has been the more aggressive of the two firing a total of 183 winners throughout the tournament compared to Serena’s 149. She has also played a cleaner game than little sis, with a winners to unforced errors ratio of -4, compared to Serena’s -7. And lastly, Venus’ second serve has been more effective, as she’s won 57% of her second serves while Serena has only won 46% of hers.
The Case for Serena:
Well, to put it simply, Serena has historically beaten Venus more on the most important stages. She has more wins than Venus on hard-courts, in Grand Slam finals and matches, as well as finals in general. Something about playing at the biggest tournaments brings the absolute best out of Serena. She refuses to lose, she hates losing. Serena is mentally stronger than Venus, which could prove to be a key factor in tomorrow’s final.
Serena has played just as well, if not better than Venus in Australia. This is the first time Venus has reached the final, let alone passed the quarterfinal stage, since 2003 where Serena beat her to complete her fourth consecutive Grand Slam victory, dubbed the Serena Slam. Serena has won the Australian Open six times and her chances for winning her seventh bode very well. She has fired a total of 44 aces throughout the tournament compared to Venus’ 28. Serena has also won more first serve points, amassing an amazing 81% while Venus has only won 68%. The first serve will be especially crucial for Serena and it seems to have improved in her last two matches, winning 88% in her quarterfinal match and 92% in her 50-minute, semifinal victory.
Venus and Serena’s head to head at the Australian open is tied 1-1, with both meetings coming at very different times in their careers. This will be no different. Serena is looking to continue cementing herself as the greatest female tennis player in the history of the game whereas Venus is looking for revival and completion of her resurgence. Regardless of the outcome, both sisters will be happy for whoever emerges the champion.
Coverage for the 2017 Australian Open women’s singles final between Venus and Serena Williams begins at 3:30am E.S.T.