It was hard to keep our eyes off Venus Williams as she began her swan dance after completing a comeback win against Coco, so delighted she was, as if she had never experienced this feeling before. But the moment that Venus described as ‘pure joy’- the feeling of making a grand slam final- took a gruelling span of eight years to come. Her last slam final was Wimbledon 2009, where she lost to her younger sister. And for the ninth time in her career she will meet Serena again, in the showpiece final of a major.
Fly back to 1998, Australian Open, round two, Venus lodged a straight sets win in this rivalry. However she lost 16 out of the next 26- that includes ending runner up to her in four straight major finals. On Saturday, Venus will enter the Rod Laver Arena with a 2-6 record in Grand Slams final against Serena. Numbers and history, heavily aligned against the 17th ranked elder Williams.
It has been a resilient Venus- suffering from Sjogren’s syndrome which can often cause unpredictable fatigue and joint pain- and this summer, not just fighting on court but also silencing questions regarding her retirement. As Marion Bartoli said, “You must let the champions decide when the right moment comes.” Her younger sister has been through troubles of her own. Losing the numero uno spot to Kerber and then cutting her season short, Serena has picked up her game this year and has steamrolled to the finals without losing a set.
“It’s the one time that I really genuinely feel like no matter what happens, I can’t lose, she can’t lose,” said Serena. “It’s a great situation.” They will be the oldest opponents to face each other in a slam final. Serena is on the brink of a record breaking 23rd Grand Slam title, while Venus is bidding for her 8th. Venus’ last title run at major dates back to 2008, where she beat Serena.
Serena has eclipsed her elder sister in achievements on the biggest stage and will enter the court as the hot favorite on Saturday. Even Venus knows that she would put forward her best play and then hope that Serena is far from her best in order to have any shot of winning her maiden title in Melbourne Park. Will she be able to handle Serena’s first serve?, something which has been a constant threat to her in this rivalry, only time will tell.
But take away the numbers and you have two greatest players of women’s tennis, who have not only inspired millions but have also proved that age is just a number and the will to compete transcends time. Whoever takes away the trophy on Saturday, it’ll be a moment to cherish, one to savor. We hope it goes the distance. While sentiments favor Venus, the logical brain fails to look past a Serena special.