Tennis: Serena slaughters Sharapova at SW19
Updated: Saturday, 04 Aug 2012 20:08
Serena Williams claims "disastrous" health problems spurred her on to a Career Golden Slam in the most one-sided women's Olympic final ever.
The 30-year-old smashed her way to gold in a 6-0 6-1 victory over Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon.
Before today, the most one-sided final had been in 1920 when Suzanne Lenglen beat Dorothy Homan 6-3 6-0.
Williams is the first person to win the Golden Slam in both singles and doubles and the first person to do it in singles since Steffi Graf won all five titles in 1988. She lost just 17 games in the entire tournament.
The Wimbledon champion said: "I've really been training hard and the injuries have been disastrous for me.
"I feel like I could have had more slams, but I was fortunate enough to survive what I went through and it made me a better person and maybe a better player. Who knows if I would have had this desire to do well and to play otherwise?
"I wanted it more and I think the health struggles made me want it more."
The 14-times Grand Slam winner is now on a 17-match winning streak and finished the match with two aces, asserting her utter dominance.
Her victory today matched her 6-1 6-0 win over another Russian, Vera Zvonareva, in the third round.
She jumped up and down and danced with delight as she clinched the Olympic title.
Williams has lost just five games in the three Olympic finals she has won: 2000 Sydney doubles, 2008 Beijing doubles and 2012 London singles.
She said: "Being Olympic gold champion, Golden Slam singles and doubles, that's pretty awesome.
"I would have been happy whether I'd got silver or gold because it's such a great achievement to get on that medal stand. But obviously I've won a gold. It's a big moment. I've always wanted to win a gold.
"I was really focused today and when you're playing a great player like Maria you've got to come ready to play. She had a chance of winning a Golden Slam and I did too.
"I don't know if it was domination it was just me being really focused and I think the grass suits me, it just all came together.
"I've done something no one else has done so I'm really excited about it."
Sharapova, 25, was competing in her first Olympic Games and received enthusiastic support from the crowd.
After the match, she said: "I am so proud of my accomplishment here. It's magnificent to be at the Olympic Games for the first time and leave with a silver medal. It was such a great experience, certainly a tough tournament, and I can't wait for the four years to come around to get another chance."
During the medal ceremony the US flag came loose in the wind, but Williams said: "Obviously it wasn't intentional, it was just really windy. Hey, it's life."
If she and her sister Venus win the doubles competition they will both have four gold medals, which no-one else has achieved before.
American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan won their first Olympic gold in the men's doubles.
The 34-year-old siblings beat French pair Michael Llodra and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 7-6 (7/2) in the final at Wimbledon.
The 11-time grand slam winners said playing for their country brought a higher level of intensity to their game.
Bob Bryan said: "I can tell you there's no better feeling than this, winning for each other, for our team and for our country. It brought a different level of intensity to our tennis.
"To hear the national anthem and stand on the podium, we could shut our careers down today and be happy for the rest of our lives."
His brother said the win was a good end to what had been a "rough year", as it means they now have the career Golden Slam of all four majors and an Olympic title.
Mike Bryan said: "We saved it all for this one. We lost two grand slam finals this year, it's kind of been a little bit of a rough 12 months but we've got smiles on our faces now. There hasn't been a more special feeling than this.
"It's just something that you dream about. It's pretty cool to say you have the Golden Slam."
The Americans celebrated their victory by Mike leaping into his brother's arms.
Mike Bryan added: "Those moments, you don't plan them out. I just usually jump and he holds me up. That's the longest we've ever hugged."
Tsonga was upbeat after losing out on gold, but silver gave him plenty of satisfaction.
He said: "Of course we are disappointed about this final, but anyway it's something really good to get this medal. It's really something big and we will never forget this moment."
Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet, also from France, beat Spain's David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (7/4) 6-2 to take bronze.
Andy Murray will place equal importance on both his Olympic finals tomorrow as he goes for double gold at Wimbledon.
As well as facing Roger Federer in the singles final, Murray will also team up with Laura Robson in the mixed doubles after the pair came through two matches today.
First they beat Australian duo Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Stosur 6-3 3-6 10-8 to reach the semi-finals, and this evening they won another close encounter with Germans Christopher Kas and Sabine Lisicki 6-1 6-7 (9/7) 10-7.
Murray admitted it was not the ideal preparation for a potential five-set match against world number one Federer, but he does not mind where the gold medal comes from.
He said: "I'm a bit stiff. When you play singles, I'm sore in the same places; when you play doubles, it's a bit different, you have to be explosive at the net, and other things hurt a bit more.
"I'll do everything right tonight and make sure I'm in the best possible shape tomorrow because it's a big day.
"For me, both matches are very important. I'd love to win two golds, and I'd obviously prefer one gold to two silvers. It's very different preparation to what I'm used to and that's the beauty of this competition.
"Winning a mixed doubles title at Wimbledon would be great but winning the singles title is obviously much, much bigger, whereas here it counts for exactly the same in the medal table.
"I'd obviously love to beat Roger tomorrow as well but either match would be great to win and I'll give it my best in both."
Tonight's victory means the worst Murray can come away with is two silver medals, while at 18 Robson will be the youngest Olympic tennis medallist since Jennifer Capriati won singles gold in Barcelona in 1992 aged 16.
It was not even decided Murray and Robson would play together until last weekend, and even then they needed a wild card to get in.
Robson said: "It's been an amazing week. I'm super excited for tomorrow and I'm sure we're going to do well."
Murray will look to follow in the footsteps of his brother Jamie, the Wimbledon mixed champion with Jelena Jankovic in 2007, in winning a mixed doubles title on Centre Court.
The Scot added: "It's been a great decision. I've enjoyed the whole week and to be guaranteed a couple of medals going into the last day is excellent. I wasn't expecting that, maybe in one but certainly not two."
Like Murray, Federer is going for his first Olympic singles title, and if he achieves it he will join women's singles champion Serena Williams in completing the career Golden Slam of all four major titles and the gold medal.