Steffi Graf completed the so-called Golden Slam in 1988 by winning the singles titles at the four major tournaments and the Olympic Games. The only player who could have gone after the great German’s tally of five titles was Serena Williams.
The American won the Australian Open to complete a career Grand Slam in 2003 and still had time to compete for Olympic gold. However, it eluded her for a long time, as she failed to participate in the 2000 and 2004 tournaments and fell to Elena Dementieva in the quarterfinals of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
In spite of this, Serena has experienced Olympic success, taking home the gold medal in the doubles competition with her sister Venus in both 2000 and 2008. Serena, at age 30, had a great shot at winning the Olympic singles gold medal in London. A few weeks after winning his fifth Wimbledon singles title, the American came back to the All England Club and played superbly in all six of his matches.
With this, she made history by becoming the first tennis player to win all four Majors and the Olympic gold medal in both singles and doubles. Serena’s path to history required victories over five players ranked in the top 20 of the game. She only lost a total of 17 games across 12 sets, and never more than three in any given set, so it hardly presented much of a challenge.
As a result of one of the best weeks of her career, Williams earned the title of champion. On August 4, Williams defeated Maria Sharapova, a former Wimbledon champion, 6-0, 6-1, in just 62 minutes. This was Williams’ sixth victory over the Russian in eight matches.
When Sharapova, then only 17, reached the final of Wimbledon, she lost to Serena Williams. Eight years later, the Russian’s play was no match for the formidable foe. Serena played one of her best matches ever, with 24 winners and only seven errors. She completely dominated serve and return, leaving Maria in the dust.
To put it simply, Serena Williams won the 2012 Olympic gold medal.
The American held on to her serve and put pressure on her Russian opponent, breaking her serve five times in seven opportunities. Williams’ powerful serve and groundstrokes were too much for Sharapova, who won only 25 points while hitting for very little success.
The American kept her points on her racquet and dominated the shorter and mid-range rallies as she charged headfirst toward the championship. Serena started the match off with three aces and quickly took control of the match with a forehand down the line winner that led to a break at love in game two.
In the third game, Sharapova led 30-0 before Williams won four consecutive points, including an ace, to take a commanding 3-0 lead. With a game point at stake in the next game, the Russian double-faulted, and Serena capitalized with another powerful forehand to go up 4-0.
Williams served an ace to finish off the fifth game, and then Maria served to stay in the set. After the Russian jumped out to a 40-0 lead in the sixth game, the American battled back to win it with a backhand down the line. After forcing an error out of Sharapova on a volley, she made the put away to win the first set 6-0 in just 30 minutes.
Williams picked up right where she left off in the first set, starting the second with a flurry of four straight winners. She broke the next one by betting a return winner, and she won her eighth straight game this way. There was nothing Maria could do to stop Serena from landing three winners on the return, and she soon found herself down 3-0.
After 45 minutes of play in game four, Sharapova got on the board thanks to an unreturned serve. During game five, Maria had a break point opportunity, but Serena averted it with a winning forehand drive volley. With a backhand winner, the American averted another break point and won the set 4-1.
Williams broke serve at 15 with a smash winner in the next game, giving her a 5-1 lead and match point. With four winners in game seven, Serena secured the gold medal, capping off a stellar performance with an ace down the T line and adding another chapter to the annals of tennis immortality.