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Serena Williams stands alone atop modern tennis after winning Australian Open against sister Venus

The Washington Post logoThe Washington Post 28-01-2017 Chuck Culpepper
Serena Williams fell to the ground in jubilation after the last point of her 6-4, 6-4 victory Sunday in the final of the Australian Open in Melbourne. © Jason Reed/Reuters Serena Williams fell to the ground in jubilation after the last point of her 6-4, 6-4 victory Sunday in the final of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

When she watched a last, dying ball fall into the doubles lane and harmlessly wide, 35-year-old Serena Williams both crumpled to the court and ascended to a perch. On the other side of the planet from where the Williams tennis story had begun, the younger sister had climbed to the top of the 49-year-old Open era.

Her 6-4, 6-4 win over her sister, Venus Williams, in the Australian Open final, had pushed her to a 23rd Grand Slam singles title, beyond all the teeming horde of players who have tried the sport since it shed its amateurs-only status in 1968. She exceeded Steffi Graf’s 22, just as she had exceeded the 18 of both Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.

Only Margaret Court’s 24, gathered mainly in the years before the Open era started in 1968, remains ahead of Williams, who has seven Australian Open titles, seven Wimbledon titles, six U.S. Open titles, three French Open titles and a fresh, new stay at the No. 1 ranking she lost last September to Angelique Kerber.

By the time Williams stood up, her older sister, 36, had walked around to the other side of the court. Venus Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam champion herself, saw her record in the voluminous sibling rivalry fall to 11-17, 5-10 in Grand Slam tournaments.

“That’s my little sister, guys,” Venus Williams told the audience in Melbourne, and the ESPN TV audience, just afterward.

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