They’re two of the greatest tennis players of all time. They’re the only two in the Open Era with at least 20 Grand Slam titles.
Serena Williams boasts 23 and is celebrating the close of a special year. Roger Federer has 20 titles, a mark he reached in 2018.
And now they’ll meet for the first time in their storied careers when they face off in a Hopman Cup exhibition mixed doubles match on New Year’s Day in Australia.
🔊 Serena on @rogerfederer: "It's like a dream come true – this is so cool!"
🔊 Roger on @serenawilliams: "It is going to be one time, probably never again – it's great to be playing against her!"
The two greats meet for the first time at @hopmancup 2019!
Who wins: 🇺🇸or🇨🇭? pic.twitter.com/BZtooarit9
— ITF (@ITF_Tennis) December 31, 2018
Williams and Federer, both 37, have shared the court when winning Grand Slam titles on the same weekend eight times, most recently in 2017. They’ve also played together in a 2010 exhibition match raising money for Haiti, but have never been on opposing sides of the net.
The match-up comes courtesy of the Hopman Cup, where eight teams representing their countries play in a round-robin format. There are two groups of four and nations play two singles and a mixed doubles match. The winners of each group play in Saturday’s final.
“I’ve been looking forward to it since I saw it,” Williams said, per the New York Times. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God, this is so cool.’ So it’s just something that, as a player, is something that you would dream of, to play Roger Federer.”
Williams will play with Frances Tiafoe, representing the United States. The U.S. lost to Greece on Monday, though Williams won her singles match.
Federer will play with Belinda Bencic for Switzerland. The Swiss duo is the defending champion and opened the tournament with a win over Britain.
Federer said it’s exciting for both of them to participate in what could be a once-in-a-lifetime event.
From the New York Times:
“We’re both fierce competitors and we always want to win. We try our best.”
The match will be played as “Fast 4,” an abbreviated Tennis Australia format with sets played to four games, no ad-scoring and a nine-point tiebreak at 3-all.
Williams and Federer have each won the tournament twice, but never competed in the same year.
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