Serena Williams needed the women's singles gold medal to complete her repertoire of career achievements.
Already having a career Grand Slam in singles and doubles as well as two previous gold medals in doubles, Williams entered the 2012 Summer Olympics with a purpose. Well, even more impressively, Williams won a third doubles Olympic gold in addition to her first singles title.
Turning 31 years old next month, she is once again on the upswing. Ahead, let's take a look at how Williams has been able to catch a third wind en route to a fulfilled career.
Serena and sister Venus did not drop one set during their run at a third Olympic gold medal. On another level, they only twice had to win a seventh game through five matches.
The duo had previous golds at the 2000 and 2008 Summer Games, but the opportunity to repeat/defend that was not evident until 2012. Switch to the singles format, and Serena was even more dominant.
She never gave up a set, only lost 17 total games and never needed a seventh game to win a set. Not to mention the toughest match anyone gave her was the unseeded Urszula Radwanska of Poland (6-2, 6-3) in Round 2.
Williams blasted Russia's Maria Sharapova in the final 6-0, 6-1 and is easily playing the best overall tennis right now.
Vying For That No. 1 Spot
That said, Williams has made a strong case for that No. 1 singles spot after thrashing Victoria Azarenka (current No. 1) of Belarus and then Sharapova (No. 3) for gold. The last time Serena held that coveted top spot was in October of 2010 before losing it after a foot injury.
Now, she's clearly on a tear for reclaiming the position, and that fire alone is arguably the sole motivating factor in Serena's recent production. As we see next, Williams has been able to be dominant by seemingly flipping a switch.
Career Roller Coaster
After taking 2012 Wimbledon and double gold at the Olympics, Serena has revived her career for a third wind. For as completely eclectic as Williams' career has been, she has managed to do so in brief spurts of consistency.
Her career began a little rocky, but Serena then won the U.S. Open in 1999. Not until the 2002 French Open did she win her next Grand Slam, and Williams quickly crushed through the 2003 Wimbledon Championships.
From the 2003 U.S. Open through 2008 Wimbledon, she managed just two slams and two additional final appearances. Catching a second wind at the end of 2008, Williams won five slams through Wimbledon 2010.
This current confidence definitely carried over into the Olympics, and it'll be interesting to see how Williams performs at the 2012 U.S. Open and in the early stages of 2013.
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