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Win-win Open scenario for Williams sisters

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/01/2017 Darren Walton
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Serena Williams insists it's "win win" for sport's most successful sisters regardless who reigns in an Australian Open final for the ages on Saturday night.

With a 23rd major triumph, 35-year-old Serena can surpass German great Steffi Graf as the most prolific grand slam singles champion in professional tennis history.

Born-again Venus, five months shy of her 37th birthday and contesting her first major final since 2009, has the chance to become the oldest women's grand slam champion in the 49-year open era.

Numbers and statistics, though, don't tell half the story of where the two inseparable siblings have come from to set up their remarkable ninth all-Williams grand slam title decider - and the oldest final ever on one of the sport's four biggest stages.

Six years ago, Serena was "quite literally" on her death bed after suffering a pulmonary embolism while laid up for almost 12 months after slashing her foot during 2010 Wimbledon celebrations.

The life-threatening clot on her lungs came after she and Venus endured the tragic drive-by shooting death of their oldest sister Yetunde in Los Angeles in 2003.

Venus has been battling Srojden's syndrome - a debilitating auto-immune disease - since 2011 and few gave the former world No.1 any hope of adding to her seven singles slams.

Little wonder Serena says that, despite everything at stake on Saturday, the result will be academic.

"After everything that Venus has been through with her illness and stuff, I just can't help but feel like it's a win-win situation for me," said the six-times champion who can also regain her world No.1 ranking from Angelique Kerber.

"I was there for the whole time. We lived together. I know what she went through.

"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.

"It is definitely 100 per cent the best-case scenario that I could have ever dreamt of."

Melbourne Park was the scene of the Williams' first grand slam meeting in 1998 and also where the younger sister beat Venus to complete the "Serena Slam" in 2003.

The all-conquering duo last squared off for a grand slam crown at Wimbledon in 2009, when Serena prevailed for the sixth time in a major decider.

Serena concedes the latest instalment will inevitably be a little "uncomfortable", but Venus, revelling in her revival, says it'll be business as usual.

"I don't think we'll be doing anything too much different than what we have already done these past, er, 20 years," Venus said.

"My main goal will be to execute my game. If I can achieve that, that's more or less what I'll be thinking of, not necessarily that it's the final.

"Of course, you think of that, too. I mean, that's normal. But if you're especially mentally strong, you can block that out, too, so I'll try."

A Serena triumph would also pull her within one of Margaret Court's all-time record 24 singles slams.

A Venus victory would elevate her above Evonne Goolagong, Justine Henin and Maria Bueno and Dorathy Lambert Chambers into equal 10th all-time with Suzanne Lenglen and Molla Bjurstedt Mallory.

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