Serena Williams held up a Grand Slam winner’s trophy for the 23rd time, celebrating her unrivalled place in history, and received a congratulatory letter and a pair of custom-made shoes from Michael Jordan, the name most synonymous with No. 23.
Venus Williams got to watch from close range again, and shed tears more of joy than regret after being beaten in a major final for the seventh time by her record-breaking younger sister.
Serena won the all-Williams final, the ninth in Grand Slam history and the second in Australia, 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday. With her record seventh Australian Open title, Serena moved ahead of Steffi Graf for the most major titles in the Open era.
When Serena sat on the court, holding both arms up to celebrate on Saturday, Venus walked over to her sister’s side of the net for a hug. “This was a tough one,” Serena said. “I really would like to take this moment to congratulate Venus, she’s an amazing person — she’s my inspiration. There’s no way I would be at 23 without her — there’s no way I would be at one without her. Thank you Venus for inspiring me to be the best player I can be and inspiring me to work hard.”
Asked if it felt awkward to be on the receiving end of so many losses to her sister, the 36-year-old Venus didn’t flinch. “No, because I guess I’ve been here before,” she said. “I really enjoy seeing the name Williams on the trophy. This is a beautiful thing.”
Venus won the last of her seven majors in 2008 at Wimbledon. She didn’t make the second week of a major for a few years as she came to terms with an energy-sapping illness after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome in 2011. And she only made it back to the semifinals last year at Wimbledon.
They will start preparing the red carpet in New York City soon for Serena Williams.
She won the Wimbledon tennis title Saturday, her sixth and her 21st Grand Slam title, by beating a young Spaniard, Garbiñe Muguruza, 6-4, 6-4.
That meant that Williams had completed her second “Serena Slam” — four major titles in a row — and also meant she would be gunning for a rare calendar-year Grand Slam at the U.S. Open in New York, starting in late August.
Only one other player in the modern era of tennis has achieved that, Steffi Graf in 1988, when she also won an Olympic gold medal. Mo Connolly in 1953 and Margaret Court in 1970 are the only women who have previously won calendar-year Grand Slams.
Williams, typically, started slowly against the 20-year-old, 20th-ranked Muguruza, falling behind in the first set, 1-3 and 2-4. But she roared back for a 6-4 victory and kept rolling to a 5-2 lead in the second set.
Usually, at this point on the women’s tour against the No. 1 and always dominant Williams, the other player packs it in.
Not Muguruza. To the delight of the packed Centre Court crowd of 15,000, she broke Williams’ serve twice to get back on serve, but then yielded at love in her 4-5 service game.
They did the cool thing, the classy thing, by bringing Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert out to embellish, or even to authenticate, the occasion of Serena Williams joining their 18 Grand Slam singles victory club Sunday evening after Williams toyed with Caroline Wozniacki in the United States Open final.
The request was made Saturday, Navratilova would say, after standing with Evert in a corner of the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium, waiting for Mary Carillo to cue them to the presentation of the championship trophy and a shiny bracelet.
Once upon an era, the career-long rivals Navratilova and Evert shared bagels in the locker room before fittingly finishing their careers with the same number of slams. Now it was their turn to hug and welcome into the fold a woman they — and Carillo, the former player and esteemed tennis commentator — didn’t always shower with praise, didn’t always think gave the game the respect it deserved.