Serena Williams is a grand slam champion for the 23rd time in her career.
The American won her seventh Australian Open title after beating sister Venus in a strange encounter at Melbourne Park 6-4 6-4. Her 23 major trophies are the most won in the Open era, and puts her second on the all-time list behind Margaret Court.
Serena's biggest opponent was not the other person on the court who shared her surname - it was herself. From the moment the sisters emerged from the tunnel to receive the applause of the nearly 15,000-strong crowd at Rod Laver Arena, something was off.
While Venus smiled and chatted to the umpire and young girl in charge of flipping the coin, Serena was stony-faced and focused, refusing to even lock eyes with her sibling. That surly attitude carried over to the start of the match as Serena lost her cool and smashed a racquet just three games in.
Normally so vocal with her positive reinforcement, Serena was strangely quiet, save only for some screams of anguish when she couldn't reach a ball or some barely audible muttering to herself. She looked in pain - but it was clearly pain of the mental variety at having to play someone she so respects and admires.
Serena, not usually shy about being heard, mouthing "come on" to herself after points. It gets said a lot, but vibe is weird. #ausopen— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 28, 2017
However, that pain only makes Serena's achievement more remarkable. The fact she was able to put whatever nerves she had aside - even if they were never really completely gone - will only add to her legend.
The match started with a couple of breaks of serve as both players struggled early. Serena made mistakes but Venus was the more tentative of the two and eventually surrendered the second set in just over 40 minutes.
Venus looked like she would mount a comeback when, down 0-40 in the third game of the second set, she won five consecutive points to take a 2-1 lead. But there's a reason Serena now has 23 major trophies.
The younger sibling broke to go 4-3 up and held onto her advantage, serving out the match before collapsing to the ground in relief.
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