Serena and Venus Williams have become the first tennis players to claim four Olympic medals after their 6-4, 6-4 triumph over Czech fourth seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in the battle for women’s doubles gold on Sunday.
The victory follows Serena’s singles gold from Saturday – with Venus having won hers12 years ago – and adds to their Olympic doubles gold medals from Sydney and Athens.
Their golden Olympic run complements an already astonishing resume, which includes 21 Grand Slam singles titles between them and 18 Grand Slam doubles titles together.
In a re-match of last month’s Wimbledon doubles final, which the Williams sisters also won, the Czech pairing was always going to have to produce something special to deny the family’s destiny.
They had lost all four previous encounters against the Americans but were riding high on confidence having taken out Team USA’s other pair, top seeds Lisa Raymond and Liezel Huber, in straight sets in the semi-finals.
Under a closed roof on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, Venus and Serena made their intentions clear immediately, breaking serve in the opening game of the match, before holding the advantage throughout the first set.
Venus shrugged off a break point when serving for the first set to close it out 6-4 after 51 minutes.
Games went with serve to 2-2 in the second before the Williams sisters upped the tempo; Serena charging across to thump a swinging backhand volley winner past Hradecka’s feet to seal a break of Hlavackova’s serve to love.
She would hold her own serve to love to hammer home the advantage for 4-2 and was left with the honour of serving for a place in Olympic tennis history at 5-4.
Facing the most feared serve in the women’s game, Hlavackova was not about to let the gold medal become a formality, getting a shaky return into play before ripping a backhand past Venus at net. It brought the crowd roaring back to life.
When Hradecka shanked a backhand off the court to bring up two match points, Serena bellowed a scream of “C’mon”, the end now well in sight. Hradecka was quick to make amends though, saving the first match point with a backhand volley.
The Czechs would save a second match point when Hradecka stood toe to toe with Serena in a heavy-hitting exchange from the baseline before Hlavackova intercepted to knock off the forehand volley winner.
Spurred into action, Serena responded with an ace down the T and another scream of “C’mon” before claiming victory on match point No.3 when Venus jumped in to put a volley away, sparking a celebratory jumping frenzy from the two sisters.
They await the winner of the bronze medal play-off later on Sunday before hearing The Star Spangled Banner played on Centre Court once more.