The Australian Open finals won’t be played until this weekend, but one thing is certain: The women’s championship trophy will be engraved with “Williams.”
For the 28th time in history — and the ninth time in a Grand Slam — sisters Venus and Serena Williams will play each other for a title, ensuring the trophy will wind up in their Palm Beach Gardens home. The last all-Williams final was 2009 at Wimbledon, which is the last time Venus reached a major final.
With a combined age of 71, the siblings will be the oldest women’s finalists at a major in the Open era. The previous record was the 2015 U.S. Open final between Flavia Pennetta and Roberta Vinci, which had a combined age of 66.
Venus, at 36, is the oldest woman to reach an Australian Open final in the Open era and the second-oldest to play a Grand Slam final, behind 37-year-old Martina Navratilova, who played in the Wimbledon final in 1994. Venus reached the final by beating fellow American Coco Vandeweghe 6-7 (3-7), 6-2, 6-3.
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The video of Venus’ victory celebration went viral, as she jumped around the court like a little kid on the last day of school.
Serena’s 6-2, 6-3 semifinal win over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni was expected and not as emotional as that of her older sister, whom many fans and pundits had written off.
The men’s final will also feature at least one player many figured was past his prime. Roger Federer, the 35-year-old father of four, outlasted fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3. Federer is seeded 17th after a six-month injury layoff and was considered a long shot heading into the tournament. He awaits the winner of Friday’s semifinal between Rafael Nadal and Grigor Dmitrov.
“A total inspiration,” Serena said of her sister during the post-match interview. “My big sister, she’s basically my world and my life. I was so happy for her, really.
“For us both to be in the final is the biggest dream come true for us.”
Serena will be going for Grand Slam title No. 23. Venus is aiming for her eighth.
The first time the sisters met in a final was on Key Biscayne in 1999 in the Lipton Championships, now known as the Miami Open.
“Everybody has their moment in the sun; maybe mine has gone for a while. I’ve got nothing else to do,” Venus said.
“I just feel like no matter what happens, we’ve won,” Serena said. “She’s been through a lot. I’ve been through a lot. I look forward to it. A Williams is going to win this tournament.”