Venus and Serena Williams: A Look Back at Their Early Years on the Court

This sister act is seemingly unstoppable. Venus and Serena Williams will take the court Saturday to battle it out in the Australian Open final. The match comes nearly two decades after the duo faced off for the first time in their professional careers in the second round of the 1998 Australian Open.

Venus, 36, and Serena, 35, continue to defy expectations and rule U.S. women’s tennis — even as many younger players rise through the ranks. Serena is going for her 23rd Grand Slam championship, which would be a record in the modern Open era. Venus, meanwhile, has racked up seven titles during her storied career.

Serena Williams Venus Williams Australian Open
Venus Williams and Serena Williams huddle during a double’s match at the 1998 Australian Open.

Both sisters will wear Nike kicks for Saturday’s match, but they’ve been involved with other major shoe companies through the years, too. In 2000, Venus signed a contract with Reebok — a deal that was believed to be the biggest ever for a female athlete at the time. Serena, meanwhile, was a Puma athlete early in her career. She signed with Puma in 1998, before Nike picked her up five years later and never looked back.

Serena Williams Venus Williams Australian Open
The pair leave the practice court at the Australian Open in 1998.

Through it all, the sisters have remained fierce competitors on the court, although Serena has dominated in recent years. Off the court, however, they’re extremely close and the best of friends.

No matter who wins, it will be a Williams.

Serena Williams Venus Williams Australian Open
The sisters leave the court after the European Championships in 1998.


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