Serena Williams says facing elder sister Venus in Saturday’s Australian Open final will be a great occasion.
Serena, 35, is bidding for an Open-era record 23rd Grand Slam, while Venus, 36, is targeting her eighth major, and first since Wimbledon in 2008.
“This probably is the moment of our careers so far,” said Serena, who has beaten Venus in six of their eight Grand Slam finals.
“I never lost hope of us being able to play each other in a final.”
Saturday will be their first Grand Slam final against each other since Wimbledon 2009, when Serena won in straight sets, and their 28th meeting in total.
“Nothing can break our family,” added Serena. “If anything, this will definitely bring us closer together, knowing that I want to see her do the best that she can possibly do.
“I know that she definitely wants to see me do the best that I can do. This is a story. This is something that I couldn’t write a better ending for. This is a great opportunity for us to start our new beginning.
“It’s the one time that I really genuinely feel like no matter what happens, I can’t lose, she can’t lose. It’s going to be a great situation.”
Serena drew level with Germany’s Steffi Graff on 22 Grand Slams when she claimed her seventh Wimbledon title last year, but lost in the US Open semi-finals to Czech Karolina Pliskova.
A seventh title at Melbourne Park would add further credit to her claim as the greatest of all time, despite being one short of Australia’s Margaret Court, whose 24 major titles were split between the amateur and professional eras.
Venus failed to reach a single Grand Slam quarter-final between 2011 and 2014 as she battled injuries and Sjogren’s syndrome, an auto-immune disease that causes fatigue and joint pain.
Now, however, Venus is enjoying a late resurgence, backing up her run to the last four at Wimbledon six months ago by going one step further here.
Serena would regain the world number one ranking from 2016 champion Angelique Kerber if she wins the title, while Venus would move back into the top 10 if she wins on Saturday.
Serena Williams says that she could not write a better ending to the sisters’ remarkable story, but this may not be the final chapter. Venus is the oldest woman in the field, but has proven beyond doubt that she still has the power and the defensive skills to defeat younger challengers.
Whether that includes Serena remains to be seen. The 22-time Grand Slam champion is yet to drop a set in Melbourne: the tougher the opponent, the better she plays. And no-one has more respect for Venus Williams than Serena Williams.
‘Serena is super-awesome but I can compete’
Venus, the oldest finalist at Melbourne Park in the Open era, knows her sister doesn’t have many weaknesses in her game.
“When I’m playing on the court with her, I think I’m playing the best competitor in the game. I don’t think I’m chump change either, you know,” she said.
“I can compete against any odds. No matter what, I get out there and I compete.
“So it’s like two players who really, really can compete, then also they can play tennis.”
“OK, it won’t be an easy match,” she added. “You have to control yourself, then you also have to hopefully put your opponent in a box. This opponent is your sister, and she’s super-awesome.”
Previous Grand Slam finals
2001: US Open – Venus Williams won 6-2 6-4
2002: French Open – Serena Williams won 7-5 6-3
2002: Wimbledon – Serena Williams won 7-6 (7-4) 6-3
2002: US Open – Serena Williams won 6-4 6-3
2003: Australian Open – Serena Williams won 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-4
2003: Wimbledon – Serena Williams won 4-6 6-4 6-2
2008: Wimbledon – Venus Williams won 7-5 6-4
2009: Wimbledon – Serena Williams won 7-6 (7-3) 6-2
*Overall Serena has a 16-11 win-loss record against Venu
Culled from BBC Sports