Photo: Eisele/Giubilo/ZimmerVenus and Serena Williams (USA)
LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: Venus and Serena Williams have the chance to go deeper into the record books as they bid to become the first players in tennis history to win four Olympic gold medals.
The sisters reached the women’s doubles final on Saturday with a testing 75 64 semifinal victory over the third seeded Russians Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova.
It’s the third Olympic doubles final for the Williamses, having claimed gold at Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008. With Venus having taken the singles gold as well at Sydney, and Serena having won her first singles gold medal prior to today’s doubles semifinal, the London 2012 event is set to be a dream come true for the Americans.
“We talked for four years to be here in this position,” Venus said. “We've really fought hard and it means a lot to us. Olympics is the height of our careers.”
Serena’s gold medal victory also secured her the coveted golden slam, joining Steffi Graf as the only two women in history to have achieved the feat. So a win in the doubles too would single Serena out as the first woman in tennis history to win a career golden slam in both singles and doubles.
The girls are also bidding to join their American predecessors Gigi Fernandez and Mary Joe Fernandez as the only players to successfully defend an Olympic tennis title – and at the same time surpass them with a golden trio.
And if that isn’t enough, Serena could join her sister and American legend Helen Wills as the only three women to win both the singles and doubles titles at one Olympic Games.
Czech fourth seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, who had already booked their place in the final on Friday, will now be looking for revenge in what is a repeat of the Wimbledon women’s doubles final just four weeks ago, where the Williamses won 75 64.
But with no wins against the Williams in four previous meetings (all at Grand Slams), and with the Williams gunning to make history once again, the Czechs need to pull out all the stops if they are to claim the gold.
Even though Kirilenko and Petrova were unable to create any breakpoint chances against their opponents, this semifinal win was certainly not the easiest victory for the Williamses.
They needed six match points to close out victory in a frustrating final game that saw relentless baseline exchanges between Kirilenko and Serena and excellent volleying from Petrova to keep defeat at bay. The Americans had struggled to close out the 56-minute opening set too, missing two set points at 5-4.
It was a particularly tough day for Kirilenko, who had earlier missed out on the singles bronze medal to Victoria Azarenka, and the frustration was evident. The Russian pair must now battle top seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond – eliminated by Hlavackova/Hradecka in the other semifinal - for a chance at bronze.
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