American Serena Williams will now dominate the discussions of the greatest player in the Open Era in women’s tennis after on Saturday brutalizing former No. 1 and former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova 6-0, 6-1 in the gold medal match at the London Olympics, held at the All England Club.
The gold medal match followed a semifinal where the younger Williams sister humbled the current world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-2.
Williams rounded into devastating form as the Olympic draw progressed, and becomes the only woman in tennis history to complete a “Golden Slam” in singles and doubles, winning every Grand Slam title in singles and doubles, and Olympic gold in singles and doubles. No man has accomplished the feat.
Williams lost only 17 games in six matches in London, and four games in the final two rounds against the stiffest competition on the women’s tour.
Sharapova trailed 6-0, 3-0 before finally getting on the board. Williams appeared ready to out-hit the Russian at every turn, taking big cuts at groundstrokes and continuing the service dominance that had left opponents star-struck all week, launching 10 aces on the day.
Williams’ frequent injuries over the years has led to a host of almost-rans taking the No. 1 ranking, making it difficult to ascertain who might truly be ready to challenge the top players on the WTA tour — Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Dinara Safina, Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka — or who were seat-fillers.
Sharapova would have re-taken No. 1 with a victory in the gold medal match, but with her loss, the No. 1 ranking stays with Azarenka. Perhaps fitting after Serena’s victory and accomplishment in London that once again the recent Wimbledon champ comes home with the hardware, or in this case the gold medal, while someone else languishes in the No. 1 spot.
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