US has golden day as Serena, Bryans win

By Kylie MacLellan, Reuters

Posted at Aug 05 2012 12:16 PM | Updated as of Aug 08 2012 10:04 PM

LONDON - American Serena Williams won Olympic tennis singles gold on Saturday, becoming the first player to win all four grand slams and an Olympic title in singles and doubles, with her U.S. team mates Bob and Mike Bryan later taking the men's doubles gold.

Serena Williams of the U.S. (C) poses with her gold medal along with silver medallist Maria Sharapova of Russia (L) and bronze medallist Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during the presentation ceremony at the All England Lawn Tennis Club during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 4, 2012. Photo by Mike Blake, Reuters.

Russia's Maria Sharapova took home the women's singles silver, while world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus won the bronze.

In the men's doubles, France claimed two medals, with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra winning silver and their compatriots Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet taking bronze.

Williams demolished number three seed Sharapova 6-0 6-1 in just over an hour to complete her "golden slam", and could hardly contain her excitement, jumping up and down as she waited to step on to the podium to collect her medal.

"I didn't think I would be this happy. I'm so pumped," the 30-year-old said, laughing off a mishap which saw the U.S. flag whipped off the rail by a gust of wind half way through the national anthem.

"I never thought I would have a gold medal in singles."

Williams, who already had two doubles gold medals with sister Venus, has surpassed the rare singles golden slam, a feat only achieved by Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi and Rafa Nadal.

"It's a great feeling. I never thought that it would happen to me. Steffi Graf was such an inspiration," she said. "I always thought the one person I wouldn't be mentioned in the same breath as was Steffi Graf. She's done everything."

The Bryan twins also secured a doubles "golden slam" with their 6-4 7-6 win over France's Tsonga and Llodra.

"This is the biggest win of our career right here. Serena got everything rolling for the USA and we kind of got going on fire. It's unbelievable," said Bob, who has won 11 grand slam titles and an Olympic bronze in Beijing with his brother.

French double

Belarusian Azarenka overcame a semi-final thrashing by Williams to win her country's first tennis medal with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Russian Maria Kirilenko, while France's Benneteau and Gasquet secured their bronze with a 7-6 6-2 defeat of Spain's David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez.

"We have it, we have the medal, we have it for life, so it's something special. For me this is a very huge thing to have an Olympic medal. It's amazing," said Benneteau.

"For France it is a good day today."

Williams's win over Russian opening ceremony flag bearer Sharapova, who didn't even win a point until the third game of the match, was the most one-sided women's singles final in Olympic history.

Later she and Venus, who herself won singles gold in Sydney in 2000, booked their place in the women's doubles final with a much more closely fought 7-5 6-4 win over Russia's Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova.

The Williams sisters will take on Czech duo Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka for the gold on Sunday, with the Americans bidding to become the first tennis players to win four Olympic gold medals.

Sunday will also see the final of the mixed doubles, which has returned to the Games for the first time since 1924.

Britain's Andy Murray and Laura Robson, who played both their quarter-final and semi-final matches on Saturday after rain delays squeezed the schedule, will face Belarus's Azarenka and Max Mirnyi in the final.

Murray will first have to take on world number one Roger Federer in the men's singles final.

Mike Bryan will also be back on court, this time with Lisa Raymond to play Germany's Sabine Lisicki and Christopher Kas for the mixed double's bronze.

Mike, who celebrated his men's double win by jumping on brother Bob for a bear hug, is hoping the excitement of winning the men's doubles gold will carry him through.

"That's the longest we've ever hugged," he said. "There hasn't been a more special feeling than this ... I got to carry that into the mixed." (editing by Michael Holden)