Venus and Serena Williams each made history at the Australian Open on Wednesday, but safe to say only one of them will look back on the day fondly.
First, the bad news. Tournament organizers announced that older sister Venus would be fined $5,000 for skipping out on a mandatory news conference following her first-round ouster at the hands of Johanna Konta a day earlier. It is the largest such fine handed out to a female player for a “media conference” infraction.
According to USA Today, it was the 16th fine overall assessed at Melbourne so far this year, but the first for a player of either gender in the media category. It was also the first media-related fine at the event since Nicole Vaidisova was docked $2,000 in 2009. By comparison, Marat Safin was fined $10,000 for the same violation at the 2001 French Open.
World No. 1 Serena Williams, after polishing off 90th-ranked Hsieh Su-wei on Wednesday, did attend her news conference and was asked if she knew why Venus skipped out on the press.
"I don’t know. If you want to, you can ask her," Serena reportedly said, before laughing. "Yeah, I don’t know. I wasn’t here."
Serena had another reason to laugh on Wednesday. The second-round win at Rod Laver Arena came in her 79th career match in the main draw of the Aussie Open, a record for the event.
"It all started here — this is where I played my first Grand Slam right on this court and I’m still going, it’s such an honor," Williams, who has a 70-9 win-loss record at Melbourne Park since her debut in 1998, told the media. "I love it every time I come here."