Never let anyone tell you time travel is scientifically impossible.
The men’s and women’s finals at the 2017 Australian Open serves as proof that it is. How else could you explain a pair of matches that wouldn’t have looked out of place in 2007?
Serena and Venus Williams first played a Grand Slam final against each other at the 2001 U.S. Open. That’s an astounding length of time to remain relevant in tennis. Venus won that match, but Serena prevailed yesterday, winning 6-4 6-4.
It’s hard to imagine this being anything other than a final meeting between the two legends, with Venus at 36 and Serena at 35. Granted, it’s dangerous to count it out, but if yesterday truly was the last time they face each other on such a stage, it’s quite a bookend to the familial rivalry.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal first played a Slam final against each other in 2006, which is also an unfathomably long time at the top of the sport. For a while, nearly a decade ago, it looked like Nadal was going to usher Federer into the sunset long before now. Instead, Nadal’s injuries, the rise of other men’s stars, and Federer’s commitment to excellence (and his evergreen talent) have evened out the playing field.
So here we were, in 2017, with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal meeting in another Slam final, another five set finish with two of the best men’s players of all time. Perhaps the two best men’s players of all time. Federer now sits at 18 total Slams, Nadal 14. And though we may indeed get to see them again in a final, sports are unpredictable, and often withholding of the poetic moments we might want to see.
But this weekend, we were allowed to take a trip back in time. These four athletes represent more than a decade of the sport, and they’re all still going. We’re all lucky to have seen them.