The 2017 Australian Live Thread For 1/28/18: The Women's Final - Venus vs Serena XXVIII
As many American casual fans come out of the woodworks again to care about tennis long before Wimbledon is about to end, the 28th encounter for Venus and Serena is getting the last minute hype as it would warrant from a crowd that wouldn't have any desire for any other WTA matchup. But this dream Australian Open final for that crowd, who aren't the 24/7/365 fans of the sisters or reporters of the sport of tennis on a regular basis have missed out on the key reason for the magical duo giving us this ultimate female match for 2017 Melbourne.
If Venus and Serena had been adamant about playing doubles at another Grand Slam, we wouldn't have their first Slam final in eight years. And it happened to be a little elbow injury that Venus decided to be precautionary with as the defining, unheralded decision of this entire women's Australian Open tournament.
Although playing doubles did not hamper them in Serena's Wimbledon singles title last year, as Venus made the semifinals and joined Serena to win the doubles there, playing in both events has proven to be a major deterrent in both going deep in a Slam as of late. That was indeed the case in 2013, as their quarterfinal loss to Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani proved detrimental for Serena. A rusty Venus had already been well beaten by a motivated Maria Sharapova in the 3rd Round, but Serena was the favorite for another title in Melbourne. Then the defeat at the hands of Sloane Stephens, where Serena was hampered with injury, proved that doubles had cost Serena another trophy on Rod Laver Arena more than anything else.
Going deep in doubles at the US Open later in 2013 didn't prevent Serena from winning the singles title there (her and Venus lost in the semis in doubles to Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova), but trying it three and a half years later with Venus' elbow issues would have been a major risk not worth taking.
Instead, it's proven to be the top moment of sagacity this whole fortnight in Melbourne. A moment that off and on Williams sisters fans and observers of the greatest American sports story ever won't even know led to their latest, transient interest in tennis.
(The full match review will come in the Australian Open recap after the men's final tomorrow).