Going into the 2012 London Olympics, Serena Williams was the favorite for the gold medal. Not only was she fresh off winning Wimbledon for the fifth time in her career—and the third time in four years—but the Olympics were going to be held on the very same grass courts at the All England Club that she had been so dominant on.
Not many could have predicted how easily she would win the gold, though.
After a 6-3, 6-1 win over Jelena Jankovic in the first round, Serena had her toughest match of the tournament in the second round, recording a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Urszula Radwanska—the younger sister of Agnieszka, whom she had just beaten in three sets in the final of Wimbledon.
From there, she never dropped more than three games to anyone, beating Vera Zvonareva in the third round, 6-1, 6-0, Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals, 6-0, 6-3, Victoria Azarenka in the semis, 6-1, 6-2, and Maria Sharapova in a 63-minute beatdown in the gold medal match, 6-0, 6-1.
That’s just 17 games lost in six matches, and those six opponents included the reigning No.1 (Azarenka), three former No.1s (Jankovic, Wozniacki and Sharapova) and a former No.2 (Zvonareva).
“I never expected gold in singles,” Serena said afterwards. “I was so happy with my doubles golds. I thought, ‘If my career’s over, I have my gold medal and now I have everything.’ Now I have singles, doubles, actually everything there is to win in tennis. Where do I go from here?”
Serena is still the only tennis player in history, male or female, to have a Golden Slam in both singles and doubles. She completed her Golden Slam in doubles at the 2001 Australian Open (having won gold in Sydney in 2000), and in singles with the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics.