Williams sisters to meet in Grand Slam final for ninth time

The Williams' sisters at the Australian OpenVenus Williams and Serena Williams have been dominating the world of women’s tennis for nearly two decades, and they will meet in a grand slam final for the ninth time Saturday at the Australian Open. While Venus last reached a major final in 2009, younger sister Serena is playing for an Open Era record 23rd grand slam singles title.

Serena already has six Australian Open titles in her career, and she entered 2017’s tournament seeded second. She made short work of the early rounds, advancing to the quarterfinals without dropping a set, and proceeded to destroy her next two opponents, surrendering a total of seven games over four sets against Johanna Konta and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni to reach the final.

Venus was the 13th seed, but a series of upsets in her bracket meant she did not face a seeded opponent until the quarterfinals when she met 24th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Dispatching Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets, Venus then faced Coco Vandeweghe, who eliminated No. 1 ranked women’s player and 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber in the fourth round. Vandeweghe won the first set in a tiebreak, but the more-experienced Venus rallied to take the next two as Vandeweghe grew frustrated and crumbled under the pressure of her first major semifinal appearance.

Serena and Venus also faced off at the 2003 Australian Open final. Serena won that match, and is 6-2 against Venus in major finals. Venus’ only two victories came at the 2005 US Open and Wimbledon in 2008, but Serena got the last word at Wimbledon the following year, which was the last time the Williams sisters met in a major final. The sisters split their two hard-court matches since then, with Venus winning at the 2014 Rogers Cup semifinal in Montreal and Serena advancing in the quarterfinals at the 2015 US Open.

Serena likes to point out that nobody has defeated her as many times as Venus, who has won 11 of their 27 matches, but Serena is battling a different foe at this point: history. Her seventh Wimbledon win last year tied her with Steffi Graf with 22 grand slam singles titles, but her pursuit of the Open Era record had to wait until 2017 after she lost to Karolina Pliskova in the US Open semifinals.

Saturday could be the final time the Williams sisters meet in a major final. Serena is 35 years old, and Venus is 36, making her the oldest grand slam finalist since Martina Navratilova in 1994. Their combined age is already the highest a women’s grand slam final has seen in the Open Era. Regardless of who wins or whether they will ever meet again with a grand slam title on the line, their competitive sibling rivalry is one of the enduring tales of modern tennis.