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Olympics 2012: Serena Williams beats Sharapova to win gold
Rout of Maria Sharapova gives American first gold medal
WIMBLEDON, England — As Serena Williams stood atop the medal podium, her career Golden Slam complete thanks to an Olympic rout, the gusty wind on Centre Court blew the U.S. flag off its pole midway through the national anthem.
Old Glory came to rest in front of the Royal Box.
“It was probably flying to come hug me because the flag was so happy,” Williams said.
The victory completed a remarkable run of domination by the No. 4-seeded Williams, who lost only 17 games in six matches en route to her first singles gold medal. She went 13-0 this summer at the All England Club, where she won her fifth Wimbledon title a month ago.
It took the No. 3-seeded Sharapova 45 minutes to win a game, and by then she trailed 6-0, 3-0. Williams dominated with her serve and repeatedly blasted winners from the baseline, taking a big swing with almost every stroke despite the windy conditions on Centre Court.
Williams said the tournament was the best she has played from start to finish.
“I was so focused here,” she said. “I remember I was serving and I was thinking: ‘Serena, this is your best chance to win a gold medal. You’re at Wimbledon, you’re on grass, you play great on grass, pull it together, just win this.’ And that’s what I thought about.”
The career Golden Slam was first achieved by Steffi Graf, who did it when she won at the Olympics in 1988 after sweeping all four major titles.
“Growing up watching her, I always liked her,” Williams said. “Having a chance to be mentioned in the same name — I always thought, ‘OK, one person I’ll never be mentioned in the same name is Steffi Graf. She’s done everything.’”
Williams can add the gold medal to her 14 Grand Slam singles championships, the most of any active woman. She’s the first player to achieve a Golden Slam in both singles and doubles.
And she’s not done in London. Williams and her sister Venus, pursuing their third gold in doubles, were scheduled to play in the semifinals later Saturday.
Sharapova completed a career Grand Slam in June by winning the French Open, but Williams beat her for the eighth consecutive time. The most one-sided previous women’s final was in 1920, when Suzanne Lenglen of France beat Dorothy Holman of Britain 6-3, 6-0.
Top-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus won the bronze by beating No. 14-seeded Maria Kirilenko of Russia 6-3, 6-4. Sharapova’s loss allowed Azarenka to retain the No. 1 ranking.
Roger Federer will try to complete a career Golden Slam when he plays Andy Murray of Britain in the men’s final Sunday.
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