Unstoppable Williams wallops shell-shocked Sharapova to lift Olympic tennis singles crown with historic performance
Saturday, 04 August 2012
August 4 - Four weeks to the day since she won her fifth Wimbledon singles crown, Serena Williams returned to the Centre Court to achieve her one remaining goal today: capturing Olympic gold for the United States with a ruthless 6-0, 6-1 demolition of Maria Sharapova in just 63 minutes in what was the most one-sided final in the Games' history.
Even by her own powerful standards, the 30-year-old (pictured above and below) simply blew her Russian opponent away, at times rendering the grunting Sharapova to a confused wreck as she blasted serves and winners all over the court.
It was not difficult to work out who the capacity crowd was rooting for, slow hand-clapping Williams for the leaving the court to get a drink after the knock-up, keeping Sharapova waiting at least five minutes.
But once the action got under way Williams was totally dominant, perhaps better than at any time in an illustrious career that has netted 14 Grand Slam singles titles, as she started with three aces in the first game, one off the second serve, and never looked back.
The gusty conditions clearly troubled the taller Sharapova, but even on a calm day I doubt she would have run Williams close.
Any points the Russian did get she had to work for – big time.
"Maria, I still want to marry you," screamed a male admirer as the humiliation for the 25-year-old went from bad to worse.
Although Sharapova received a huge cheer when she finally won a game after 45 minutes of desperation and threatened a minor comeback at 1-3 in the second set, it was quickly snuffed out.
Williams promptly saved two break points with ruthless intent and went on to complete the so-called Golden Slam in the most lopsided women's final in Olympic history.
It beat the previous record set at Antwerp in 1920 when France's Suzanne Lenglen Britain's overcame Dorothy Holman 6-3, 6-0.
When the one-sided encounter was complete, the fiercely competitive Williams showed the other side of her personality with an impromptu celebration rap dance just to show what it meant to her.
She could even see the funny side when, right in the middle of Star Spangled Banner during the medal ceremony, the American flag somehow blew off its pole and fluttered towards the photographers' pit before coming to rest in front of the Royal Box.
"It's a big moment 'cos I've always secretly wanted a singles gold medal," said Williams, who has beaten Sharapova eight straight times now and lost only 17 games in six matches en route to the Olympic title – a remarkable achievement given that last year she almost quit tennis because of myriad injuries and illnesses.
"It all came together today.
"Now I have them all, it's a great feeling.
"Don't let anyone say tennis isn't an Olympic sport.
"It deserves its place."
A shaken Sharapova tried to put on a brave face.
"Winning the silver means a lot," she said.
"It's a unique experience and great to get a medal.
"There are always things you feel you could do better but she's playing incredibly confident tennis.
"She was too quick and too powerful."
Top-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, whom Williams demolished in the semi-finals, won the bronze medal after defeating number 14-seeded Maria Kirilenko of Russia 6-3, 6-4.
Specialist American top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan took the men's doubles gold by beating the French pair of Michaël Llodra and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
And British ace Andy Murray, who meets Switzerland's Roger Federer in Sunday's men's singles gold medal match in a repeat of their recent Wimbledon final, is now assured of at least two medals after teaming up with Laura Robson to reach the final of the mixed doubles, also tomorrow.
The duo saw off Germans Christopher Kas and Sabine Lisicki in three sets, 6-1, 6-7, 10-7, in today's semi-finals.
August 2012: Federer through to face Murray in London 2012 final after longest Olympic match in history