Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova, 6-4, 6-3 in 89 minutes in the WTA Tour Championship this weekend in Istanbul, Turkey, while Venus Williams beat Monica Niculescu 6-2, 6-3 last weekend to win her only title this year, the Luxembourg Cup in Luxembourg. Venus winning her 44th singles title puts her second only to her little sister Serena who holds 46, among active players. Serena finishes the year with a world ranking of No. 3 and Venus finishes at No. 24. Either sister would have more titles if they had not played each other in 8 Grand Slam and 3 other finals, with a career head to head record of 13-10.
Serena defeated all the top players this weekend again, however, she could only finish as high as No. 3 on the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Rankings because of WTA rules based on her amount of play. According to the WTA, Serena has won 48 out of 50 of her last matches, winning all 18 of her last matches against the top players in the world: 1) Victoria Azarenka, 2) Maria Sharapova, 4) Agnieska Radwanska, 5) Angelique Kerber, 6) Sara Errani, 7) Li Na, 8) Petra Kvitova, and 10) Caroline Wozniacki.
Sharapova and Serena have played eleven times prior to this final, with Serena besting her nine times mostly on hardcourts. Neither player had lost in their round-robin play nor their semi-final matches. In the semis, Serena defeated Radwanska 6-2, 6-1 in 61 minutes, and Sharapova defeated Azarenka 6-4, 6-2 in 96 minutes. Both struck the ball well, but especially Serena in not only her strong serve but also returns in play where she has not dropped a set.
Serena this year has seven titles in singles and two in doubles with Venus at Wimbledon and the Olympics. After this, Serena started her summer domination, and this helped in Venus' come back which showed at her reaching the semis of Cincinnati. Both sisters have missed a lot of playing time due to injuries and illnesses during their careers but this year Venus has missed the most and not played well because of Sjogren's Syndrome which has sapped her energy.
Luxembourg is Venus' first title in two and a half years since Acapulco in 2010. Unseeded in the tournament Venus beat several seeds, with a two and one half hour dramatic win over Andrea Petkovic in the semis 5-7,6-4, 6-4 using her groundstrokes as opposed to her serve to win. To show her improvement in stamina she turned around the next day and played strongly to win over Niculescu in 1 hour and 22 minutes.
Venus stated that, "Coming to the tournament this week I was just trying to play well. I didn't know if I could win this event, so to stand here as the winner is a wonderful way for me to end the year, and it really makes me look forward to next year as well." The win and her new ranking should give her a seed at the Australian Open to make a good run before playing a higher seed. Serena will carry over her ever improving play into a Grand Slam that she likes and has fared well at with five titles. 2013 could be the year when the Williams Sisters dominate again as they did in 2002 finishing at No. 1 and No. 2.