Serena Williams beat her sister Venus 6-4 6-4 in the Australian Open final on Saturday to overtake Steffi Graf's record of 22 grand slam victories, with which she was previously tied.

The Williams sisters, who have dominated the women's game for almost 20 years, last played each other in a grand slam final in 2009.

Despite the rivalry between the two, the support and affection that ties them has been obvious throughout the tournament with both clearly relishing the opportunity to meet in the final.

After her victory, Serena paid tribute to her sister telling the audience at the Rod Laver arena: "She's [Venus] an amazing person, there's no way I would be at 23 [grand slam titles] without her – there's no way I'd be at one without her.

"There's no way I'd have anything without her – she's my inspiration, she's the only reason I'm standing here today and she's the only reason that the Williams Sisters exist.

"Thank you, Venus for inspiring me to be the best player that I could be. And for inspiring me to work hard this week – every time you won I felt like 'I gotta win too'."

Venus stunned the tennis world as she battled to the final in Melbourne aged 36, despite not having progressed beyond a grand slam semi-final between 2009 at Wimbledon – also the last time she met with her sister in a grand slam final – and last year. Williams had previously won seven grand slams, but was latterly usurped by her younger sister as the dominant force in the women's competition.

Venus' career was hampered by a diagnosis of Sjögren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease which affects moisture-producing glands of the body, in 2011. In the months that followed the illness rendered her, at times, incapable of playing. Serena praised her sister's "amazing comeback" on Saturday before adding: "I don't like the word comeback – she's never left."

Though Serena, now 35-years-old, overtakes Graf's number of grand slam victories, she must win another two to beat the all-time record held by Australian Margaret Court – after whom one of the arenas in Melbourne is named. Court's first grand slam victory came in 1960 at the Australian Open, and her last at the US Open in 1973. Neither Williams nor Court have completed a so-called "Calendar grand slam" – winning each of the four grand slams in a calendar year.

Aside from edging ahead of Graf's record, the victory also means Williams will once again regain world no.1 status after being temporarily dethroned by Angelique Kerber, last year. Prior to this, Williams had held the joint record of 186 consecutive weeks at the top spot with none other than Graf. Williams, who has a total of 309 weeks as world no.1, will need a few more victories to overtake Martina Navratilova with 332, and Graf who holds the record with 377.

Venus and Serena Williams at Australian Open
Serena Williams (r) paid tribute to her 'inspiration' - sister Venus - after beating her in the Australian Open final. Reuters