What is common between the 2008 Wimbledon and the 2017 Australian Open finals?
Well, no idea? No problem. It is hard to remember even the recent sporting facts when we get so much information through traditional and social media. The two tournaments have an an amusing commonality. Both have the same finalists. The same players appeared in both the Men’s and Women’s sections despite the nine years that separated the tournaments.
EVERGREEN HEROES AND HEROINES
Sibling rivalry was on in the Women’s section in both the tournaments as Serene Williams took on Venus Williams. And the rivalry of big brothers illuminated the Men’s section as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal charged in for gladiatorial battles.
The Williams sisters first met each other in a final way back in 2001 – at the Flushing Meadows for the US Open crown. Venus won that final. Federer and Nadal first came head to head in a grand slam final in 2006 – at the Rolland Garros for the French Open title. Nadal reigned supreme in that match. After more than a decade of their first meeting at the grand stage, here they were at the Australian Open finals: the four contemporary tennis legends, shrugging off the challenges from the younger lot and standing ta to the myriad challenges posed by the passage of time.
All these players have their elite places in the pantheon of tennis greats. Among the four, only Venus can be accused of underachieving. All the others have won everything that is there to win. So, another grand slam crown in the form of Australian Open is not a big deal. But it is not just a triumph in a tennis tournament. It is a counter-revolution of the athletes against Father Time.
Each player has played their part in this. Let us follow their journeys that culminated in the final of this year’s Australian Open.
Venus Williams, born in 1980, was the first to make debut in tennis among the four players. She turned pro in 1994 at the unusually tender age of 14. She had almost all the skills she has now. As her physical strength increased, she started to win more matches. She reached the final of the US Open in 1997. She lost to Martina Hingis. Hingis was in top form at that time and Venus struggled to match her. However, she scaled greater heights from there.
The year 2000 was her breakthrough year. Even though she was just 20 years old at the time, she had already a seasoned pro with almost six years of experience. She won the Wimbledon and US Open that year. She repeated the feat next year too. By that time Serena had also established herself as a top rival. Venus found it hard to get past her sister in big matches. She reached several grand slam finals in the next few years. Still a title would not come. By 2004, Serena had established herself as the top player of the era. Venus’s form nosedived. She excelled only in the grass courts of the Wimbledon and other tournaments.
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