Sports

MELBOURNE – Tennis ace Serena Williams has beaten sister Venus Williams in straight sets to win her seventh Australian Open and an Open-era record 23rd Grand Slam singles title.


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Serena, 35, won 6-4 6-4 to pass Steffi Graf in the all-time list of major winners since the Grand Slams accepted professional players in 1968.

“Congratulations Serena on number 23,” said Venus, who at 36 was the oldest Australian Open finalist in the Open era on Saturday.

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“I have been right there with you, some of them I lost right there against you. It’s been an awesome win.

“I’m enormously proud of you, you mean the world to me. I, God willing, would love to come back. Thank you for all the love.”

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Serena also paid tribute to her sister, who was playing her first major final for eight years, saying: “There’s no way I would be at 23 without her. There’s no way I’d be at one without her. She’s my inspiration.

“She’s the only reason I’m standing here today. She’s the only reason the Williams sisters exist. Thank you for inspiring me. Every time you won this week, I felt like I got a win too.”

Serena broke her racquet in frustration in the third game of the match. The crowd on Rod Laver Arena had been backing Venus from the beginning as she tried to win a first major title for eight years, and all the more so as defeat loomed and she appeared to struggle physically.

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There was a huge cheer when she held serve to force her sister to serve out the match, but Serena recovered from 15-30 to earn match point and fell back on the court in celebration as her sister sent the ball floating wide, the BBC reported.

Serena Williams won her first Australian Open title 14 years ago. The American has now regained the number one ranking from German Angelique Kerber.

Australia’s Margaret Court, with 24, is the only player still ahead of Serena in terms of Grand Slam singles titles.