At age 36, and for the first time since 2009, Venus Williams is again in a Grand Slam final—and is again facing her sister.
The elder Williams is again finding incredible success in majors. She won her last Grand Slam singles title (and her seventh overall) at Wimbledon in 2008, appeared in her last final there the following year, and advanced to at least the fourth round in all four majors in 2010, but battled injuries and illness from 2011 to 2013 and sank as low as 135th in the world in 2012. She’s been improving since then, though, cracking the top 10 in 2015, making the Wimbledon semifinals in 2016, and now advancing to the Australian Open final (as the 13th seed, no less) with a 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-2 win over CoCo Vandeweghe Thursday morning. Her reaction to that was amazing:
The reaction continued after she shook hands with the chair umpire:
Venus's reaction after shaking hands with chair umpire pic.twitter.com/c8iBgjtOy0
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) January 26, 2017
It’s understandable why Williams is so thrilled here. It’s not just that she hasn’t reached the heights of a Grand Slam final since 2009, it’s that she’s also making history. This makes her the oldest woman in a Grand Slam final since 1994, when Martina Navratilova reached the Wimbledon final at 37 (losing to Conchita Martínez in three sets). This is also just the second time Williams has made the Australian Open singles final; the first one was in 2003, and she lost. It’s not easy to get this far, even for a dominant player like her, and it’s terrific to see her enjoy the moment.
It also must feel great for Williams to again be fully grabbing the attention of the tennis world, which has recently focused so much on her younger sister Serena (who’s won five majors in the past three years). Hopefully media outlets will correctly identify her this time, and not make problematic remarks. And she said after the win she was hoping for a chance to face Serena again:
"I would love nothing more than to see her across the net from me on Saturday" – Venus Williams talking about her sister Serena Williams…
— Grant Slovin (@golden_slo) January 26, 2017
For her part, Serena beat Mirjana Lučić-Baroni 6-2, 6-1 to book her own ticket to the final. The Williams sisters facing off in a Grand Slam final hasn’t happened since Serena beat Venus in that 2009 match, but it’s about to happen for the ninth time overall Saturday. That could be truly special, and a definite flashback for many long-time tennis fans.