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A Final Four for Venus and Serena

When Williams sisters play tonight for title, it will be fourth straight Slam final between same two women, a record.

January 24, 2003|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

MELBOURNE, Australia — When Serena and Venus Williams face off in the Australian Open final tonight, it will be the first time in more than 100 years of Grand Slam tournament history that the same two women have met in four straight finals.

And younger sister Serena will attempt to complete a "Serena Slam" by winning her fourth consecutive Grand Slam tournament -- defeating Venus in all four finals.

Yet another all-Williams final has left prognosticators examining every factor, no matter how trivial, looking for one that could make a difference in this match.

Certainly, great note was taken of Serena's forehand, which went missing in her three-set semifinal victory over Kim Clijsters, as well as the foot blisters she suffered in the match. Similarly, weight has been assigned to the fact Venus hasn't lost a set at the Australian Open.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday January 29, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 14 inches; 527 words Type of Material: Correction
Tennis -- An article in Sports on Friday previewing the championship match between Venus Williams and Serena Williams in the Australian Open incorrectly stated it was the first time the same two women had met in four consecutive Grand Slam finals. Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova played each other in six consecutive Grand Slam finals from the 1984 French Open to the 1985 Wimbledon championships.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday January 30, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 16 inches; 604 words Type of Material: Correction
Tennis -- It was incorrectly reported in a correction Wednesday that Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova played each other in six consecutive Grand Slam finals from the 1984 French Open to the 1985 Wimbledon championships. In the 1984 Australian Open final, played in December instead of January, Evert defeated Helena Sukova, ending the Evert-Navratilova streak at three. Venus Williams and Serena Williams have played the most consecutive Grand Slam finals against each other -- four -- from the 2002 French Open to the 2003 Australian Open, as reported in a Sports article Friday.

Even personality quirks are taken into account. Who is in a good mood? Who isn't? If this sounds trivial, welcome to women's tennis, in which almost every Serena Williams news conference has taken place with a question about clothes or jewelry.

But current form and mood aren't necessarily predictors of Slam success in matches between the sisters. At Wimbledon in 2000, Serena had dropped only 13 games in five matches and was so loose she appeared to be auditioning for a spot on "Saturday Night Live" ... and Venus won their semifinal match.

The "new" Serena has beaten her older sister four consecutive times in straight sets, three in Grand Slam finals in 2002.

This is the first Australian Open final in which they have met. Serena missed last year's event because of an ankle injury, so the sisters have met each other in the last five Grand Slam events both have played (Venus beat Serena in the 2001 U.S. Open final).

The last player to complete a non-calendar-year Grand Slam was Steffi Graf, who completed it here in 1994.

Serena, on a 27-match winning streak at the majors, knows what stands between her and the Serena Slam. "One match and Venus," she said, smiling.

Said Venus: "No matter who it is, I hate to lose. The same with her, maybe even more. Off the court we're sisters again."

On the court too, at least when they play doubles. The sisters won the Australian Open women's doubles title today, defeating Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain and Paola Suarez of Argentina, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

The gap between Venus, 22, and Serena, 21, and other players might not be the Grand Canyon, but Serena is increasingly annoyed by questions about it. Clijsters, who squandered a 5-1 third-set lead and two match points in their semifinal, shares the sentiment.

"We were actually joking about it yesterday in the locker room after our matches," Clijsters said. "She goes, 'Oh, I'm so sick of all these questions.' I said, 'Well, so am I. Why don't we boycott it all?' "

Serena and Venus have four Grand Slam championships apiece. Overall, the rivalry stands even at 5-5.

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