Tennis

Serena beats Venus to set new record

Serena Williams admitted she could not have written a better story herself after beating her sister Venus to win an Open-era record 23rd grand slam title.

Serena sealed a 6-4 6-4 victory on Rod Laver Arena to claim her seventh Australian Open crown and pull clear of Steffi Graf's 22 major triumphs.

She now stands just one short of Margaret Court's all-time best of 24, a mark she could conceivably pass at Wimbledon this summer.

It would add statistical weight to the now almost indisputable argument that the American is the greatest female player of all time.

"It's such a great feeling to have 23. It really feels great," Serena said.

"I've been chasing it for a really long time. It feels like a really long time. When it got on my radar, I knew I had an opportunity to get there, and I'm here. I'm here. It's a great feeling.

"There's no better place to do it than Melbourne. My first grand slam started here, and getting to 23 here, but playing Venus, it's stuff that legends are made of.

"I couldn't have written a better story. I just feel like it was the right moment. Everything kind of happened. It hasn't quite set in yet, but it's really good".

Serena Williams of the U.S. holds the trophy after winning the Women's singles final against sister Venus at the Australian OpenPHOTO: REUTERS

Court was watching on in the crowd as Serena proved too consistent and too clinical for her older sibling, who was playing her first grand slam final since Wimbledon in 2009.

As well as pocketing the champion's cheque of 3,700,000 Australian dollars, Serena will reclaim the number one ranking, moving above Germany's Angelique Kerber when the list refreshes on Monday.

The 35-year-old also extends her own record as the oldest female grand slam champion in the Open era and has widened the gap on both Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, who retired with 18 major victories.

On being called the greatest to have ever played the game, Serena said: "Between Martina, myself, Steffi Graf, hands down we are leading that conversation.

Serena Williams (R) of the USA is congratulated by her sister Venus Williams (L) after winning their women's final at the Australian Open PHOTO: EPA

"There's just one thing about a champion, they keep fighting, they keep going. I just feel like those four really are incredible fighters. They're mentally tough as well. They always kept going."

She insists, however, she is not now focused on surpassing Court's tally.

"One thing I learned in the past is you have to enjoy it," Serena said. "That's the beauty of winning Australia, you have a few months to relax.

"If you win the French, it's like back-to-back-to-back-to-back. In Australia, you have time to enjoy the moment before the next grand slam."

Venus has now lost 17 times in 28 career meetings with Serena and been defeated by her sister in seven out of nine major finals.

The seven-time grand slam champion has still never lifted the title in Melbourne.

"It's not weird because I guess I've been here before," Venus said. "I really enjoy seeing the name 'Williams' on the trophy. This is a beautiful thing.

"Twenty-three is a great number. I know she would like to have a little more. Who wouldn't? It was a great moment.

"I'm very happy that she's been able to get to number 23 because there was 22 before that she also earned, and she earned it."

Final stats (Venus first)

Aces: 7-10

Double faults: 3-5

1st serves in (per cent): 69-61

Average 1st serve speed (kilometres per hour): 166-170

Returns in (per cent): 59-70

Break points won: 2/3-4/11

Winners: 21-27

Unforced errors: 25-23

Total points won: 59-69

 

- PA Sport

serena williamsVenus Williamsaustralian open