Sometimes, in the moment, it can be hard to get a proper perspective on things.
But what unfolded over the two weeks of the 2017 Australian Open seemed to pass no one by.
Whilst watching Federer, Nadal, Serena and Venus slowly but surely make their way through the draw whilst numerous seeds fell around them, it dawned on the tennis world that we may indeed get the two matchups that deep down we all craved to see once more.
After years of taking for granted arguably the greatest rivalries of all time in both the mens’ and womens’ game, they were both coming out for what may very well be one last victory lap, in the final of Australia’s Grand Slam.
They did not disappoint.
Whilst many noted that Serena Williams’ two set victory over her sister Venus was fairly vanilla as far as a tennis match goes, arguably no other WTA (or even ATP) match from the past 12 months can stack up against it as far as a storyline goes.
Prior to this year’s AO, the last time the two had played was the quarterfinal of the 2015 US Open – a stage hardly deserving of arguably the greatest womens’ tennis matchup of all time.
At age 36, whilst still a top 20 player, Venus Williams’ days of contesting for Grand Slams alongside her younger sister looked long gone – the last GS Final she had made being almost 10 years prior, a loss at the 2009 Championships.
Having struggled with injury and illness almost since the turn of the decade, the Williams sisters encounters had been reduced from a battle of tennis’ elite to an annual treat, and before we knew it, a bi-annual unicorn.
It’s been a long time back to the top for Venus, and she almost got there last year, making the semi finals at Wimbledon before going down to last years’ world No.1 Angelique Kerber.
Fast forward to the same stage in two Grand Slams time, and a comeback victory against her compatriot rising star Coco Vandeweghe perfectly encapsulated Venus’ rise back to the pinnacle of tennis.
For her sister Serena, this match was far more than just a chance at a 23rd Grand Slam and a return to the world No.1 ranking, and that much was evident to everyone watching from the moment she walked out onto the court.
Her body language, her eye contact, everything was different this time around, despite Williams the younger having been at this stage of a Grand Slam 28 times before.
Her sister, whom she had been rooting for and supporting all the way through her battle back to the top, was now once again her opponent on the biggest stage in tennis.
The words emotionally exhausting are about the only ones befitting the experience for spectators, coaches, families and of course, sisters.
An hour and a half later, Serena having set an Open Era record for Grand Slam Singles titles, the two met at centre court in an instantly immortalised, cathartic embrace, both looking glad more than anything else that the experience was over.
If the eyes of anyone watching remained dry, that was certainly not the case after the speeches, with both sisters referencing each other as the main source of their inspiration.
“I have been right there with you…I’m enormously proud of you, you mean the world to me, I, God willing, would love to come back. Thank you for all the love” Venus said.
Her sister followed, “she’s the only reason I’m standing here today…thank you for inspiring me. Every time you won this week, I felt like I got a win too.”
Thank you Serena and Venus. We felt like we got a win too.