Serena Williams Beats Sharapova to Win Olympic Gold Medal
Serena Williams dropped one game as she cruised past Maria Sharapova to add an Olympic gold medal to her collection of 14 Grand Slam tennis titles.
Williams, the fourth seed, won 6-0, 6-1 on Centre Court at Wimbledon in London today. Having captured all four of the major titles at least once, she’s completed what the International Tennis Federation calls the “Career Golden Grand Slam.”
It’s the first Olympic singles title for the 30-year-old, who won doubles gold with her sister, Venus, in 2000 and 2008. The sisters have won all four majors as a team, making Serena the only player to claim the golden slam in singles and doubles. She also set an Olympic women’s record for losing only one game in the final.
“Deep down, I wanted it in singles as well,” Williams said about winning the gold medal. “This is right up there.”
More American success followed a few hours later, when twins Mike and Bob Bryan won the gold medal in men’s doubles, beating France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra 6-4, 7-6 (7-2). Olympic gold had been the only prize to elude the brothers, who took bronze in Beijing.
One month after losing in the finals of Wimbledon, Britain’s Andy Murray will have a shot at becoming a double Olympic champion tomorrow. Murray will play for the singles title against men’s Grand slam record holder Roger Federer of Switzerland, while he also advanced to tomorrow’s mixed doubles final with his partner, 18-year-old Laura Robson.
The British pair today beat the German team of Christopher Kas and Sabine Lisick, 6-1, 6-7 (7-9), 10-7.
Today’s win for Serena Williams comes a month after she beat Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska for her fifth Wimbledon title. That victory capped a comeback from surgery and blood clots that Williams described as nearly fatal.
Williams hasn’t lost since being upset in the opening round of the French Open in May -- her earliest exit at a major. After winning Wimbledon, she clinched her 43rd career title in Stanford, California, before going to the Olympics.
Williams dictated play from the start today. She won the first set in 30 minutes as Sharapova claimed 12 points and struggled with her high ball toss in a gusty wind.
She kept the Russian on the back foot in the second set, taking a 3-0 lead. The crowd roared as Sharapova won her only game after 46 minutes as she held serve for the first time.
Sharapova, 25, got her first break point in the next game, only for Williams to answer with a well-placed serve in the corner and a forehand volley. Williams then saved a second break point with a backhand winner.
Leading 5-1, Williams set up match point with an ace. She let out a long scream after clinching the gold with her 10th ace, then jumped and danced around Centre Court as her sister cheered from the family box.
Sharapova said she was pleased to take home a medal even if she was disappointed about its color.
“It means a lot,” Sharapova said in a news conference. “To win a medal as a first-time Olympian is an amazing accomplishment.”
The wind pulled the U.S. flag free of the pole and swept it away as it was raised at the medal ceremony.
“I saw all these gusts of wind and then I saw the flag flying, it was probably flying to come hug me,” Williams said. “It didn’t quite make it.”
It was the shortest women’s final since France’s Suzanne Lenglen defeated Britain’s Dorothy Holman 6-3 6-0 at the 1920 games in Antwerp.
Tennis, one of the original nine Olympic sports in Athens in 1896, was withdrawn after the 1924 Paris Games. It returned in Seoul in 1988, when German Steffi Graf became the only player to complete the Golden Slam by winning all four majors and the Olympic title in the same year.
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