MELBOURNE, Australia — Serena Williams wrote more history with a 6-4, 6-4 defeat of sister Venus to claim a record 23rd Open Era Grand Slam singles title with a seventh Australian Open trophy on Saturday.
The 35-year-old surpassed Germany’s Steffi Graf and now stands one major title behind the 24 of Australian all-time leader Margaret Court, who won 13 of them before the 1967 start of the Open Era.
Williams will return to No. 1 after losing the spot in September to Angelique Kerber.
The Williams pair were playing a sibling final for the eighth time at a grand slam, with Serena increasing her lead to 17-11 overall.
“It’s such a great feeling to have 23, it really feels great,” Serena said. “I’ve been chasing it for a really long time. It feels like, really long time.
“When it got on my radar, I knew I had an opportunity to get there, and I’m here. I’m here. It’s a great feeling. I really felt like today, win or lose, I really felt like there was no way I could have lost.
“If I had lost, it wouldn’t have been a loss because I know everything that Venus has gone through. I know how hard she works. In particular before this tournament, she worked so hard. I just felt like this was just a win-win situation for me.”
Serena, playing her 29th Grand Slam singles final, finished without the loss of a set.
The match began cautiously, with Serena calmly smashing a racquet in the third game after being passed by her sister at the baseline.
The pair committed 21 unforced errors between them in the first five games before settling in somewhat.
With the first four games taking 20 minutes, the pace could not have been slower, but Serena opened it up with a fifth break of the set on her way to taking the lead after 41 minutes through a love hold sealed with an ace on set point.
Serena stayed in control to earn a break for 4-3 as she began to reel her sister in and moved toward an eighth win from the last nine matches.
Serena moved to 5-3, and two games later Venus found the net with a forehand to bring up match point. Serena sealed her triumph as she scooped a winner down the line after 81 minutes.
Venus was the picture of composure and poise as she spoke post-match: “I’m so happy to have been able to play this final.
“That’s exactly where I want to be standing during these Grand Slams, is on finals day, having an opportunity. That’s the highlight of all this, is to be in that moment.
“I really enjoy seeing the name ‘Williams’ on the trophy. This is a beautiful thing. It’s a great start to the year. I’m looking forward to the rest of year.
“This is like tournament number two and it’s already a lot of work. I’m looking forward to tournament number three and four. It’s going to be awesome.”
The pair who have defined the women’s game for a generation, began their sister series 19 years ago in the Melbourne second round, with Venus winning in straight sets.
Henri Kontinen of Finland and Australia’s John Peers meanwhile denied American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan a record-equaling 17th men’s doubles Grand Slam title by beating them 7-5, 7-5 in the final.
The Bryans had aimed to draw level with Australia’s John Newcombe for the doubles record but were beaten by Kontinen, the first Finn to lift a Grand Slam trophy, and Peers just as in the 2016 ATP finals.