Back in 1988, Steffi Graf had achieved something that will probably never be repeated again, winning all four Grand Slam titles and the singles gold medal at the Olympics for the so-called Golden Slam. The only player who stood a chance of winning those five titles after the great German was Serena Williams, completing career Grand Slam already in 2003 when she won the title at the Australian Open, but the Olympic gold had been running away from her, missing the events in 2000 and 2004 and losing in the quarters against the eventual champion Elena Dementieva in Beijing 2008 (Serena did win two doubles titles with her sister Venus, in 2000 and 2008).
At the age of 30, Serena had a perfect chance to finally take the Olympic singles gold in London, returning to Wimbledon a few weeks after conquering the fifth singles title there and she was untouchable in six matches to become the first player in the history of tennis who won all four Majors and Olympic gold in both singles and doubles! Serena had to beat five Top 20 rivals en route to a historic achievement but that hardly an obstacle for her, dropping 17 games in 12 sets and never more than three to become a deserved champion after one of the best weeks in her career.
On August 4, Williams toppled a former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova 6-0 6-1 in just 62 minutes, notching her sixth win over the Russian in eight matches who played her first Olympics. This was the perfect revenge for that 2004 Wimbledon final loss when Sharapova went all the way at the age of 17, playing nowhere near that level in this title match eight years later.
Serena had 24 winners and just seven unforced errors in what had been one of the best matches she ever played, dominating on both the serve and return to left Maria far behind. Serena kicked off the action with three aces and she broke at love in game two after a forehand down the line winner for an instant lead.
Sharapova was 30-0 up in the third game but Serena stayed focused, winning four points in a row to seal the game with an ace and gain a 3-0 advantage. The Russian wasted a game point in the following game with a double fault and Serena punished her with another powerful forehand that sent her 4-0 in front.
Williams closed the fifth game with an ace and Maria was forced to serve to stay in the set after just 20 minutes. She was 40-0 up but Serena had no intention to let the game slip away from her hands, firing a backhand down the line winner for a set point and converting it with a forced volley error from Sharapova to wrap up the opener 6-0 in just 30 minutes! Willams continued where she left in the first set with four winners at the beginning of the second part of the match and she won the eighth straight game after a return winner in game two, moving closer and closer to the finish line.
Maria was completely powerless on the return, falling 3-0 down when Serena landed three winners in game three and she finally got her name on the scoreboard after 45 minutes in game four, holding with a service winner to avoid an even bigger disaster.
She even had a break point in game five but Serena saved it with a forehand drive volley winner, saving another break chance with a backhand winner and bringing the game home after another unreturned serve for a 4-1. A smash winner earned a break at 15 for Williams in the next game and the gold medal was in her hands after four winners in game seven, completing an amazing performance with an ace down the T line and writing another chapter of tennis history.