Qualifying begins: 20 June
The Draw: 24 June
Pre-event Press Conferences: 25 & 26 June
Order of Play: 26 June
Championships begin: 27 June
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The American now stands alone in the list of open-era Grand Slam champions with 23 – one ahead of Steffi Graf after a seventh Australian Open triumph, achieved on Saturday with a 6-4, 6-4 win over her sister, Venus Williams. And when the rankings are updated on Monday, her name will be back on top, replacing Angelique Kerber, the German who edged ahead of her in 2016.
After hugging at the net, Serena paid tribute to Venus and the effect she’s had on her throughout her career. “She’s an amazing person,” Serena said. “There’s no way I would be at 23 without her, no way I’d be at without her, no way I’d have anything without her.
“She’s my inspiration, she’s the only reason I’m standing here today, the only reason the Williams sisters exits, so thank you Venus for inspiring me to be the best player I could be and inspire me to work hard. Every time you won this week, I felt like I had to win too. Thank you.”
There really is no one like Serena. When she lost in the semi-finals of the US Open last September, she called an end to the year, needing a break. When she lost early in Auckland at the start of the year, people questioned whether she was in the right shape, mental and physical, to win another slam. Yet again, she proved them wrong.
If she and sister Venus didn’t quite match the high standards of some of their most recent battles, their ninth Grand Slam final meeting was full of drama. Venus, in her first Grand Slam final since 2009, looked to attack from the start, not wanting to be pushed back by her younger sister.
On a warm evening, in perfect conditions, the first four games went against serve as the pair returned with venom, Serena serving three double faults in the fourth game. But the 35-year-old steadied the ship, increased her percentage and slowly began to work Venus over. The break came for 4-3 and she held the advantage to take the set.
Venus, whose last Grand Slam win came at Wimbledon in 2008, held firm at the start of the second set but the pressure eventually told in the seventh game as Serena took her third break point. From then on it was just a question of whether she would hold her nerve and at 5-4, 15-30, Venus had half a chance. But Serena shut the door on her hopes, closing out victory after one hour, 21 minutes.
Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena’s coach, said she had won the title without being at her best. “She played well enough to win but I think she can play much better,” he said. “I think last year she lost in the final but she played much better, which is OK. This year she won but she can play better, which is fine, but she needed to win this one.”
Venus was magnanimous in defeat and effusive in her praise for the champion. “Serena Williams, that’s my little sister, guys,” the 36-year-old told the crowd.
"Congratulations Serena on No.23. I’ve been there with you, some of them I lost right there against you. But it’s been an awesome thing, your win has always been my win, I think you know that. All the times I couldn’t be there, wouldn’t be there, didn’t get there, you were there. I’m enormously proud of you, you mean the world to me.”
Heartbreak for Bryans, joy for Peers/Kontinen
The Bryans’ quest for a record 17th Grand Slam men’s doubles title will have to wait a bit longer after they were edged out 7-5, 7-5 by Australian John Peers and Henri Kontinen of Finland in a high-quality final.
Peers clinched victory with a stunning lob, and was almost as stunned when he gave a speech afterwards. “Thanks Henri, you put up with me for the start of this year again,” he said. “We finished the year on a high…sorry, bit speechless. Thanks again, hopefully we’ll continue to do big things.”
One piece of good news for Bob and Mike Bryan, though. They’re not done yet. “We’ll be back next year,” Bob Bryan said.
Australia’s Dylan Alcott won the quad wheelchair singles final, beating Britain’s Andy Lapthorne 6-2, 6-2 in the first ever wheelchair match to be played on Rod Laver Arena.
Argentina’s Gustavo Fernandez beat Nicolas Peifer f France 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 to win the men’s wheelchair title; Japan’s Yui Kamiji beat Jiske Griffioen of Holland 6-7, 6-3, 6-3 to win the women’s wheelchair singles and the junior boys title went to Zsombor Piros of Hungary, a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 winner over Israel’s Yshai Oliet.
Moment of the day
The hug between the two sisters after the match