Photo: Eisele/Giubilo/ZimmerVenus and Serena Williams (USA)
LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: Serena and Venus Williams have entered the record books once again by becoming the first players, male or female, in tennis history to win four Olympic gold medals. The American sisters clinched the record by defeating Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 64 64 in the women’s doubles final on Sunday.
Serena and Venus had arrived at London 2012 already in possession of two doubles gold medals, from Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008, while Venus also won singles gold in Sydney. Serena then shattered records ahead of today’s doubles final by winning her third gold, and her first in singles, by hammering Maria Sharapova 60 61, meaning the girls fittingly entered the history books together as record quadruple Olympic gold medallists.
This doubles victory also means that Serena becomes the first woman in tennis history to win the career golden slam – all four majors and the Olympics – in both singles and doubles. Steffi Graf was previously the only woman to have achieved the singles golden slam when she did it within the same calendar year in 1988, but Serena’s double victory in London sets her apart.
"For us it's so exciting in this Olympics winning the gold together," said Venus. "For me it was amazing to watch Serena from the stands and see her complete the golden slam, so it's been amazing for us."
Serena attributes her success to a renewed dedication: "Lately I've just been focused only on tennis, nothing else, no distractions, no life. My life is practice in the morning, training in the afternoon. Wake up to practice in the morning, training. I've definitely been spending a lot more time on the tennis court. I have a nothing‑to‑lose attitude."
"Knowing that we have so much more to give, that we have great tennis in our racquets, is so motivating," added Venus. "We want to be able to, when we're done, to look back and say we gave everything. That's important to us."
On a wet day at Wimbledon, the Williams sisters got off to a flying start against Hlavackova and Hradecka under the Centre Court roof as they broke their Czech opponents in the first game. They almost doubled up in the third game, but the Czechs dug deep to fend off two break points and get themselves on the board.
That hold of serve seemed to settle the Czechs down and they began to compete with the Williams sisters and and pose them some problems. The set proceeded without any further breaks and, at 5-4, Venus had the responsibility of serving for the first set.
The elder Williams sister set about the task well and went 40-15 ahead, but a pair of missed volleys sent the game to deuce. A double fault followed as the Czechs saw a window of opportunity momentarily open, but Venus quickly closed it with three big first serves to take the first set 6-4 in 51 minutes.
The second set went with serve until 2-2, when the Williams sisters moved up a gear to break the Czechs to love. That spelled the beginning of the end for Hlavackova and Hradecka as the Americans continued to dominate with their serve, wrapping up a 64 64 win on their third match point in 1 hour 33 minutes.
Quadruple Olympic gold medallists, multiple Grand Slam champions, and now two of only three women - alongside American Helen Wills - to win both the singles and doubles titles at one Olympic Games.... London 2012 has defined the Williams sisters as one of the greatest teams of all time.