The younger sibling both returned to world No 1 and moved ahead of Steffi Graf’s total of 22 Grand Slam titles when she subdued her beloved Venus 6-4, 6-4 in 82 minutes.
Unlike 12 months ago, it was not a classic contest, with the most riveting drama being in the early stages when the eventual champion struggled to keep her calm in the face of a spirited challenge.
For Serena it was a seventh win in Australia and puts her within one Major win of Margaret Court, who accumulated them at a time when Melbourne was a lesser currency, unlike now.
After a relatively fallow 2016, when Wimbledon was the highlight, she has resumed normal service and in some style, having not dropped a set all fortnight.
It always seemed that Venus’s biggest hope might be some sort of freeze from her sister, who came in as very strong favourite.
There were early signs that she could get a dividend from this, with Serena struggling for her rhythm as, expectedly, both players played close to the edge at almost maximum power.
Serena’s uptight mood was given away in the third game when, after early breaks had been exchanged, she slipped when trying to scamper in for a netcord and smashed her racket into the court during the stumble.
British umpire Alison Hughes saw the intent and immediately issued a code violation for racket abuse. All four initial service games were breaks, but then two holds were followed by another break from Serena when she hit a backhand down the line.
Although 36, Venus still moves like a ballerina better than Serena – and if anything looks more sprightly than she did at 30. That has served her well this fortnight against lesser players but gradually her sister’s penetration was starting to tell.
Serena had never lost a Grand Slam final after winning the first set, but her sister’s high first serve percentage meant she stayed in it.
‘I want to congratulate Venus, she is an amazing person and there’s no way I would be at 23 (Grand Slams) without her, there’s no way I would be at one. Thanks for inspiring me and making me the best player I can be. She has made an incredible comeback.
‘This was a tough one and I just kept praying.’
Their relationship has clearly survived this latest final with Venus telling her on the podium: ‘It has been an awesome win, I’m enormously proud of you.’
- Source - The Nation