The 2012 London Summer Games have solidified Serena Williams’s legacy as the greatest tennis player ever. A world class athlete, sex symbol, and inspiration, she is to tennis what Tiger Woods is to golf, and Michael Jordan is to basketball. Ardent fans could not have asked for a better setting at the Gold Medal Game between Williams and Maria Sharapova. Possessing all the elements of a classic US vs. Russia rivalry, the stage was set for two of the most popular (and attractive) tennis players to compete for golden glory.
With the tennis competition of the 2012 London Summer Games being hosted at Wimbledon, it was a good omen for Williams. At the 2012 Wimbledon tennis competition, she won her fifth Wimbledon singles crown by defeating Agnieszka Radwanska. In doubles play, she teamed with her sister Venus and the sisters bested Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka to claim their fifth Wimbledon doubles title, respectively.
At the Summer Games, her first opponent was a former World number one, Jelena Jankovic. It only took Williams 61 minutes to move on to her next opponent, Urszula Radwanska. A rematch of the 2010 Wimbledon final occurred in the third round as Williams battled Vera Zvonareva. Caroline Wozniacki, another former World number one challenged Williams in the quarterfinal and was bested by marks of 6-0, and 6-3. The semifinals saw Williams overcome Victoria Azarenka, the current World number one ranked player. Williams would beat her by compiling sixteen aces with wins of 6-1 and 6-2. Her win was complemented by a post-game celebratory dance. Outfitted in blue, the proud Williams burst into tears of joy upon having the medal adorned around her. The California native could not have her jubilant mood dampened by the American flag falling off during the playing of the star spangled banner.
Her opponent in the gold medal match, Maria Sharapova would be the fourth former world number one ranked player. In the first 45 minutes, Williams took nine matches before losing one to Sharapova. The defeat of Sharapova made Williams a career Golden Slam winner in Singles (having won all four Grand Slam events – Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, US Open, plus a gold medal in Summer Games play). Steffi Graf is the only other women’s player that can boast of such an accomplishment.
To signify the importance and relevance of Serena Williams as a global celebrity and key figure in popular culture, the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama was in attendance at one of her matches. Both ladies are key female figures in the American black history of the early 21st Century.
Despite cruising to a gold medal in singles play, there was another challenge that remained. Pairing with sister Venus Williams, the two wanted to win the gold for the second consecutive Summer Games. The final saw the sisters challenge Hlavackova and Hradecka of the Czech Republic in a rematch of the Wimbledon Final. With the victory, it would mark the third time overall (the first coming at Sydney 2000, and the second in Beijing during the 2008 Games) that the Williams sisters won the gold in doubles play. With her sister Venus having won the singles gold at Sydney 2000, it marked a rare happening in which sisters have claimed double gold at a Summer Games in tennis. With the gold in doubles play, Serena also earned a Golden Slam in Doubles. She is the first tennis player, male or female to accomplish the Golden Slam at both levels of play.