Serena beats Venus to win record 23rd Slam title

Serena Williams rewrote history Saturday to
surpass Steffi Graf and capture a record 23rd
Grand Slam title as well as the world number
one ranking by beating her sister Venus in the
Australian Open final.
The dominant American swept past her
greatest rival 6-4, 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena for
her seventh Melbourne Park crown to finally
clinch the record for Open-era major titles,
nearly 18 years after winning her first.
Serena Williams of the US celebrates with the
championship trophy during the awards
ceremony after her victory against Venus
Williams of the US in the women’s singles final
on day 13 of the Australian Open tennis
tournament in Melbourne on January 28,
2017. / AFP PHOTO
The 35-year-old, who equalled Graf’s mark of
22 at Wimbledon last year, now stands just one
behind the all-time 24 won by Margaret Court,
who was in the president’s box to witness
Williams’ feat.
Her astonishing achievement also means she
again becomes the world’s top-ranked player,
ending the brief stay of Angelique Kerber who
knocked Williams off the top after three-and-
half years in September last year.
Fittingly, her sister and closest confidante
Venus was on the other side of the net to
share the moment, another chapter written in
their long rivalry.
It was Venus — still a teenager with beads in
her hair — who knocked Serena out in round
two on her Grand Slam debut in Melbourne 19
years ago, and they have since played nine
major finals together, living each other’s highs
and lows.
At 36 and seeded 13, Venus had turned back
the clock to make her first Grand Slam title
match since Wimbledon in 2009, but adding to
her seven major successes was not to be.
Showing the single-mindedness that has
propelled her to greatness, a focused Serena,
seeded two, overcame a scratchy and nervous
start in which all four opening games were
breaks and when she smashed a racquet in
frustration.
But she soon settled to get a decisive break to
go 4-3 in front with an unstoppable backhand,
and served out the set with an ace.
Serena was fired up and after the first two
games of the second set went to serve, she
worked three break points in the third only for
her sister to negotiate her way out of trouble
with some big forehand winners.
The tense battle went with serve to 3-3 before
Serena cranked up the pressure to break with a
scintillating crosscourt backhand and take a
4-3 lead.
With history beckoning, she wasn’t about to
throw it away and she served out the match,
falling to the floor in celebration before a long
embrace with Venus to share the biggest
moment of her career.
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