Serena Williams clinched her first Olympic singles gold medal with a 6-0, 6-1 demolition of Maria Sharapova in the most one-sided women’s final in the history of the Games.
Williams’ victory surpassed Suzanne Lenglen’s 6-3, 6-0 win over Dorothy Holman in the 1920 final in Antwerp. The American’s win, which came just a month after she had captured a fifth Wimbledon crown, also allowed her to become just the second woman to win a Golden Slam of all four majors and an Olympic singles title.
The 30-year-old emulates German legend Steffi Graf, who achieved the same feat in 1988 when she won the five titles in the same year.
Azarenka downs Kirilenko to win bronze
Meanwhile, world number one Victoria Azarenka won the Olympic bronze medal in the women’s singles with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Russian 14th-seed Maria Kirilenko.
It was a first Olympic medal for Belarus’s Azarenka, who celebrated by wrapping herself in her country’s red and green flag. The 23-year-old, beaten in the semi-finals by Serena, could yet leave the All England Club with two medals as she is competing in the mixed doubles with compatriot Max Mirnyi.
The pair were one set up on India’s Leander Paes and Sania Mirza before bad light forced their quarter-final to be suspended on Friday and the match will be played to a finish later on Saturday.
“It is just like the weight came off my shoulders,” said Azarenka. “It was an incredible match. I felt so nervous today because it is not usual for a tennis player once you lose to come back the next day and play. It was incredibly hard but I am so glad I did it and it was worth it.”
The bronze success is just the latest memorable moment in 2012 for Azarenka, who is enjoying the best year of her career after winning the Australian Open in January and reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals last month. It would have been an even better campaign if the Belarusian did not have the misfortune to run into Serena in the Wimbledon and Olympic semi-finals over the last month.
But there was no hangover from her latest loss to Williams as Azarenka broke twice to take the first set in convincing fashion.
Azarenka broke again in the opening game of the second set and when a wayward Kirilenko forehand conceded another break in the third game, the Russian’s frustration boiled over and she slammed her racquet into the turf. Kirilenko then broke twice to recover from 3-0 down, but it was only a brief blip for Azarenka. She took the match with one more break and sealed her first medal by kissing the Belarus badge on her dress.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2012.
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