Serena vs Venus Williams: 1999 Miami Open Final

Serena and Venus Williams are two of the best ever players and have faced each other. The pair have contested plenty of  memorable matches since their first meeting in 1998.

Here, Last Word on Tennis recounts their first meeting in a final–at the Miami Open in 1999. 

Background

The Williams sisters were both still teenagers by the time of their first meeting in a final, with Venus 18 years old and Serena a year younger.

Venus had already reached a Grand Slam final two years previously at the US Open, while although Serena had yet to win a singles major, she had won the mixed doubles at Wimbledon and the US Open with Max Mirnyi. 

In 1998 the siblings won their first title together in Oklahoma City, the third sister pair to do so. 

That year also saw the “Williams Family Mixed Doubles Grand Slam” with Venus winning the Australian Open and French Open with her younger sister claiming the latter two slams of the year. 

Venus had earlier claimed the bragging rights in the first meeting of the two sisters in the second round of the Australian Open, before triumphing in their second meeting in 1999. 

Miami Open Final 

Serena came into their first final meeting on the back of a 16-match winning streak including her maiden professional singles titles at Open Gaz de France and Indian Wells. 

Her elder sister was also in fine form after reaching the Australian Open quarterfinals and defending her title in Oklahoma.

As well as the sisters, there was also focus on their out-spoken father Richard who remarkably held a post-match press conference when he announced that this meeting: “This is what I have been planning for.”

At the beginning of the match, he held up a whiteboard with the message: “Welcome to the Williams show.”

Looking to defend her title, Venus started strong, winning the opening set 6-1 before Serena hit back with her fierce groundstrokes, leveling the match 6-4.

In a tight final set with both sisters showing their excellent movement and the elder Williams showing her prowess at the net, Venus eventually triumphed 6-4. 

In a nice moment, the two of them held a joint post-match interview, showing the bond and affection between them despite having been embroiled in a fierce contest. 

What happened next

Surprisingly, it was Serena who was the first sister to win a Grand Slam singles title when she won the US Open later that year, beating World No. 1 Martina Hingis as she ended 1999 as ranked World No. 4. 

As for Venus, she embarked on a 22-match winning streak before losing in the fourth round to No. 125 Barbara Schwartz before reaching the quarter-finals and semi-finals at Wimbledon and the US Open respectively as she ended the year as World No. 3. 

Since this first finals meeting, the siblings have met in 12 more finals including nine at Grand Slams with Serena winning seven. 

These major finals included a remarkable run of four straight finals from the French Open 2002 where Serena won all four to complete the “Serena Slam.”

Astonishingly, particularly in Venus’ case having had to deal with Sjögren’s syndrome since 2011, the two are still playing at the ages of 40 and 38 respectively and as well as their talents on the court, have inspired many African-Americans to take up the sport.

Main Photo from Getty.

 


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