Serena Williams dismantles Maria Sharapova to complete career ‘Golden Slam’
By Liz Clarke,
Serena Williams became only the fourth player in tennis history to complete a “Golden Slam” by winning Olympic singles gold Saturday at the All England Club, crushing Russia’s Maria Sharapova 6-0, 6-1, in 63 minutes to claim the one title that had eluded her.
Williams joins Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf and Rafael Nadal as the only players in tennis history to win all four of the sport’s majors and the Olympic gold medal in singles.
The match was a reprise of the 2004 Wimbledon final, in which Sharapova, then just 17, did what seemed impossible by toppling the defending champion to win her first major.
On Saturday, the Russian didn’t have a chance, with a gusty wind vexing her already shaky serve and Williams simply playing out of her mind.
“I never played better,” Williams said. “Playing against someone like Maria, you have to be at your best. I know that, so it was like I had nothing to lose.”
Williams, who pounded world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-2 in Friday’s semifinals, picked up where she left off, blasting three aces in the first game of the match to hold at love. Sharapova didn’t even bother to wave her racket as the balls zipped past, and for much of the match, she was more bystander than competitor. Williams was simply unstoppable.
Midway through the second set, after Williams roared up to obliterate the only two break points Sharapova mustered all match, a BBC commentator declared that the proceedings “resembled more blood sport than tennis.”
It was true.
There was simply no denying Williams Olympic gold on Saturday — or on any day leading up the Saturday’s final — with the American defeating four former world No. 1 players en route to the 2012 Olympic gold medal: Jelena Jankovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Azarenka and Sharapova.
Williams and her older sister Venus later defeated Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova of Russia in a women’s doubles semifinal, 7-5, 6-4. The two-time gold medalist duo will face Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic in the gold medal match. The Williams sisters won gold in Sydney (2000) and Beijing (2008).
Sharapova’s only opening was minuscule and fleeting, coming in the fifth game of the second set. She trailed 1-3 when she finally got one break point, and then another. Williams crushed both.
The Russian committed a rash of double faults to hand Williams a 5-1 lead.
Serving for the match, the American closed with two aces and flung both arms to the sky, then returned to court to leap triumphantly as her older sister Venus took photos from a courtside box.
Williams, a five-time Wimbledon champion, dropped just 17 games in her six straight-set Olympic victories, and she was at her best in the final. Her 24 winners quadrupled Sharapova’s meager total and she had more aces (10) than unforced errors (7). Williams won 79 percent her first serve points and was 5 for 7 on break point conversions.
“It’s too much. I just never expected gold in singles. I was happy with my doubles,” Williams said. “I have my gold medal (in singles), and now I have everything, literally. I have singles, doubles — actually everything there is to win in tennis. Where do I go from here?”
Matt Brooks contributed to this report.
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