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Astonishing Serena smashes Sharapova to win gold

Serena Williams is pumped up after her win
by Alexandra Willis
Saturday 4 August 2012

Today at Wimbledon, Serena Williams started a new club, all of her own. In winning the gold medal with a terrifyingly ruthless 6-0, 6-1 disposal of Maria Sharapova, Serena became the first player, man or woman, to complete a career golden Grand Slam in singles and doubles. Love, like, dislike or hate her, it's an astonishing achievement, another feather in the girl from Compton's Nike headband. 

Even though the last time she lost to Sharapova was way back when in 2004, when 17-year-old Sharapova defeated the American in the final of the WTA Championships, Serena had every right to be nervous as she began this afternoon's final. The fact that she left the court for a bathroom break after the warm-up, suggested that she might even be feeling a little bit sick. 

But any doubts about Serena's mental strength evaporated like the grass behind the baseline, as she held to love, broke to love, and, at one point, had served more aces than Sharapova had won points. 

With Sharapova serving at 0-5, but leading 40-0, Serena hit return winner after return winner, the Russian double-faulted, and Serena bagelled the set. It was beyond ruthless. 

And what's more, it became clear that nothing less than continuing the rout would satisfy her. Letting rip a 'Come on' that echoed around Centre Court as she broke Sharapova for a 2-0 lead in the second, Serena found herself three games from the gold medal after just 40 minutes. 

The Russian finally got on the board in the 10th game of the match, producing an ace to win it as the crowd went proverbially wild. The Russian then earned herself a break point, and then another, on the Serena serve. But there was no breaking a chink in the American's armour. 

In the next game, the Russian tossed in two double faults, and then missed a passing shot to hand over yet another one of her service games. Serving for the match, as only Serena could and would, she sealed the gold medal with an ace. 

Not only that, it was the fewest games in a women’s singles final in the history of the Olympic Tennis Event, Serena just dropping 17 games in her six matches. The previous shortest final was at 1920 Antwerp, when Suzanne Lenglen (FRA) defeated Dorothy Holman (GBR) 6-3 6-0.

Jumping up and down in celebration of her 13th straight win at Wimbledon, Serena could hardly stand still. And who could blame her.

For a woman whose family refused to leave her side as she lay in a hospital bed barely 18 months ago, who suffered a confidence-shattering first-ever first-round loss at a Grand Slam in the French Open, it seems almost fruitless to try and do Serena's achievements justice in writing. 

With nothing much left to achieve, other than winning more Grand Slam titles, one wonders how long she will keep playing. But while she is, she remains one of the most remarkable players ever to wield a racket. 

There followed the medal ceremony, taking place in the middle of Centre Court, and, aside from the wayward Stars and Stripes, which blew off the flagpole, it was an all-smiles affair. Serena bouncing as she sunk her teeth into gold, either side of Sharapova with silver, and Victoria Azarenka with bronze, it seemed very fitting that the three women's medallists were the three Grand Slam champions of 2012. 

Joining her sister Venus on three Olympic gold medals, a women's record, should the duo collect the doubles title as well, they will become the first players, men or women, to win four Olympic tennis gold medals.

The London 2012 Olympic tennis is taking place at Wimbledon. Visit the ITF Olympics site for full scores, draws and the London 2012 site for video content, venue and schedule information.

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