It was eight years ago on Centre Court at Wimbledon that Maria Sharapova announced her arrival on the big stage. As a teenager aged 17, she completely annihilated the top seed Serena Williams 6-1, 6-4 in the final to win her first grand slam. Many expected that match to herald the beginning of a new rivalry. However, since that meeting Serena leads the head-to-head by a score of 7-1, with all of Serena's victories coming in the last seven meetings.
Now eight years later, they meet again in a final on Centre Court at Wimbledon, with Olympic gold being the prize this time. It's fair to say that this time around, Sharapova winning 6 games across the match in its entirety will be an impressive achievement.
|Serena Williams stretches (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Defeating the World No.1 by a score of 6-1, 6-2 in the semi-finals speaks volumes of Serena's utter dominance. It would now be accurate to say that Serena Williams is currently serving better than any other tennis player on the circuit, including all men. Over the course of her win at Wimbledon and now at the Olympics, Serena has made the unbelievable act of winning a game with 4 aces routine. Truly stunning doesn't even begin to describe it.
|Maria Sharapova (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Whether that will be enough against Serena is another matter altogether. At the risk of sounding repetitive, how can Sharapova expect to win without making a dent on Serena's serve? Throw in the fact that Sharapova herself can be extremely vulnerable on her own serve, and the averages just aren't looking good.
Sharapova will guarantee Serena her toughest fight yet. Her tenacity and determination might even force Serena into a tie-break. Ultimately though, Serena's brilliant serve, ice-cool demeanour and grass court supremacy should ensure her first Olympics singles gold medal to go with the two she already has in doubles.