Serena Williams has hailed “perfect sister” Venus as the inspiration for her march towards tennis history after the five-time champion won their Wimbledon showdown.
Serena and Venus met for the 26th time as the world number one eased to a 6-4 6-3 fourth round victory at the All England Club.
Serena was relieved to have beaten the only player she regards as her equal, in the process ensuring she remains on course to become the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1988 to win all four grand slams in the same year.
But the 33-year-old, bidding to win her fourth successive major title and 21st in all, was quick to hail Venus 35, for providing a life-time of inspiration.
“I always say I wouldn’t be the player I am today if it wasn’t for Venus,” Serena said.
“Just having an opportunity to watch her win matches, watch her go to the top, and me wanting to be there because she was there.
“Her practising next to me on the court. That inspiration, her inspiring me.
“Venus does nothing wrong. She’s like the perfect sister.”
Serena conceded she would much rather not have had to secure a 15th career win over Venus, but she was happy the unwanted match-up gave her a chance to reflect on their epic achievements at Wimbledon, where both siblings have won five titles.
“Sometimes you have to play people that you don’t want to play. That happens,” she said.
“But I just really was enjoying the moment out there. It was such a great vibe, such a great situation to be in, when we were both so young and dreaming of coming to Wimbledon.
“Not only did we fulfil our dreams, we both won it five times. That’s pretty amazing.”
Taking on Venus hasn’t got any easier for Serena despite her winning record in their rivalry.
“In the past I had to really pretend like, ‘No, I’m not playing Venus’,” said Serena who takes on Victoria Azarenka on Tuesday for a place in the semi-finals.
“But now I was thinking, I’m playing a tough opponent. She’s been playing so well. Oh, my God, how am I going to be able to overcome this?”
After exchanging “sisterly words” at the net, Serena wants to put the reunion behind her and power through the rest of the tournament.
“I feel like my tournament has finally begun,” she said.
“This is where I feel really comfortable in a grand slam.”
If Serena does complete the calendar grand slam, she would draw level with Graf on 22 major titles – second only to Margaret Court’s 24.
And Venus has no doubts her sister will be regarded as the best ever by the time she is finished.
“The level she’s playing at is unprecedented. I can say that with confidence. So make what you will of it,” Venus said.
“She’s not done yet. Then when it’s a wrap, it will be easier to make labels and not offend anybody.”