Venus Williams is back into the Australian Open final for the first time in 14 years after coming back from a set down to dispatch fellow American CoCo Vandeweghe.
WTA Staff

MELBOURNE, Australia - 2003 finalist Venus Williams is back into the Australian Open final for the first time in 14 years after coming back from a set down to dispatch fellow American CoCo Vandeweghe.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion celebrated Australia Day in the best way possible, notching a 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-4 victory to reach her second final in Melbourne Park.

"It means so much to me, mostly because she played so well," an emotional Venus addressed the crowd at Rod Laver Arena. "She played so unbelievable and I had to play defense the whole time, it feels like.

"There was never a moment of relaxation ever, so to be able to get to the final through a match like this? I'm excited about American tennis!"

Vandeweghe, whose power game suited perfectly to the faster court speeds of this year's event, was enjoying her maiden Grand Slam semifinal appearance after a commanding run, which included a straight-sets stunner against World No.1 Angelique Kerber.

But she was out of her depth against the 36-year-old Venus, who relied on her veteran experience to allow Vandeweghe to take advantage of just one of her 13 break point chances.

"I don't think I was totally freaking out or anything close to that when I came out there," Vandeweghe reflected later in press. "I was pretty set on competing and working hard. I think it showed in kind of the tougher points and tougher moments.

"As far as not playing as well as I could have, it goes along with tennis. You're going to have good days and bad days. You just have to adjust as best you can."

The younger American's lone break of serve came in the very first game of the match, where she had Venus under pressure from the start. But the lead didn't last very long, with Venus jumping on some second serves and a double fault - the first of 11 for Vandeweghe - to wrench back the advantage.

The pair stayed on par to take the set into the tiebreak, where Vandeweghe found her dictating form once again and Venus, while not making too many missteps, was left to react. Vandeweghe crushed a Venus second serve with a backhand down the line and took the tiebreak, the first set Venus had dropped in the entire tournament.

Venus was right back on track in the second set, though, switching gears to target the vulnerable Vandeweghe backhand and reel off five straight games for a 5-1 lead. The younger American didn't cede an inch, bringing up four break points in the marathon, seven-minute seventh game, but Venus stayed in front.

The 36-year-old stayed the course in the third, breaking twice and, after two hours and thirty minutes on court, advanced to her first Grand Slam semifinal since 2009 Wimbledon.

With the win Venus becomes the oldest Grand Slam finalist since Martina Navratilova at 1994 Wimbledon, and the 14 years between this and her last Australian Open final appearance sets a new Open Era record.

Awaiting in the final is younger sister Serena Williams, who blew past Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in straight sets to book the first all-Williams final Down Under since their 2003 meeting.

"When I'm playing on the court with her, I think I'm playing the best competitor in the game," Venus said in her post-match press conference. "I don't think I'm chump change either, you know. I can compete against any odds. No matter what, I get out there and I compete.

"[It] won't be an easy match. I know that it won't be easy. You have to control yourself, then you also have to hopefully put your opponent in a box. This opponent is your sister, and she's super awesome."