Jennifer Brady celebrates victory against Karolina Muchova at the 2021 Australian Open on Feb. 18, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia.
With a chance to go up three games to none over Naomi Osaka in the first set of their Australian Open semifinal, Serena Williams looked as if she might just kick on from there and play for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title. But then Osaka found her serve, winning the next five games en route to knocking off the all-time great 6-3, 6-4.
It was the first meeting for the players since the final of the 2018 US Open, which Osaka won for her first career Grand Slam title. Osaka was the higher-ranked player and favorite, but Williams had been resurgent throughout the tournament, knocking off No. 7 Aryna Sabalenka and No. 2 Simona Halep to set up the hotly-anticipated meeting with Osaka.
Williams battled back in the second game, finally getting the break she needed to tie the set at 4-4 as the serving struggles that plagued Osaka early in the match returned. But then Osaka broke right back to serve for the match, and put away the win without dropping a point. Osaka survived eight double faults to Williams’ one, but also served six aces to Williams’ 3.
Williams has now played 11 Grand Slam tournaments since she won her 23rd Grand Slam title and has been unable to get the 24th that would tie her with Margaret Court for the most all time.
Osaka will again be the favorite against American Jennifer Brady. Brady beat Karolina Muchova in a match that followed the Osaka-Williams match. This will be Brady's first career Grand Slam final.