© Ella Ling

Maria Sharapova

The Career Golden Slam Miscellany

   

Miscellany on a career golden slam – because sometimes a career grand slam (without the Olympic singles gold medal) just isn’t quite enough. Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams would achieve the career golden slam – the four majors and an Olympic gold medal – if they were to win the singles titles at the All England Club this week. Both Federer and Williams have won gold medals in the doubles competitions, but they don’t count here as this is singles only.

– Only three players have previously achieved the career golden slam – Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal.

– Federer on his hopes for completing the career grand slam: “People think I have to gobble up everything to make my resume as great-looking as possible. It’s not the case. I just play a full schedule from January to November, try to play as well as I can, and enjoy myself really. It was 12 years ago that the fire was lit inside me. I did excellently then, finishing fourth, and having chances for the medals, which was completely surprising. I’ve always had decent Olympics except maybe Athens. But I always learn something in life I think every time I attended the Olympic Games. There’s no doubt about it, I would love to get a medal here this time in singles – and in doubles again.”

– Federer’s best singles result so far at the Olympics was coming fourth at the 2000 Sydney Games, as he lost in the second round in Athens in 2004 and in the quarter-finals in Beijing in 2008.

– Graf is the only player – male or female – to have managed the feat of winning all four slams and the gold in the same season. Fraulein Forehand did so in 1988. “Winning the Olympics is a different experience to winning a grand slam. But I have to say that I rate the Olympics higher, I really do. The feeling of playing for your country, the camaraderies, all the different sports – it just feels more special,” she has said. “In 1988 I stayed in the Village until everyone started partying in the Village and that’s when I left. It became loud so that’s when I moved to the hotel. Winning the golden slam didn’t add pressure or take pressure away. At the time, I wasn’t so aware of what was happening. I played so well, but I have to say that when I got to the Olympics I was emotionally a little tired as maybe there was some pressure at the time. It definitely didn’t put more pressure on me or relieve any because I have always been my worst critic. When I did well, I always wanted to push myself to do better, and that didn’t change after that.”

– Sharapova is playing at her first Olympics – she wasn’t ranked high enough to make the Russian team in 2004, and she was injured for the 2008 Games. She only recently completed the career slam when she won the French Open for the first time.

– Rafael Nadal suggested, after winning a gold medal in China four years ago, that winning the Olympics was the ultimate achievement in tennis. “The Olympic Games is very special for many reasons, and the biggest reason is that you are representing your country. You have the feeling that you are with all the Spanish sportsmen representing our country.” 

– Serena Williams on what it would mean to win Olympic singles gold: “Let’s face it, tennis players play to win Wimbledon. We play to win the Australian Open. To win the US Open. To win the French Open. The Olympics is a bonus. So sometimes you get the bonus, sometimes you don’t. Gold is gold, I have two of them from doubles. I honestly love those more than having won gold in singles because I was able to focus on doubles. Being on that stand with my sister, seeing that she’s my best friend in the world, I wouldn’t trade that for a singles.”

– For Agassi, winning the gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games was even more special because his father Mike, a former Olympian who had boxed for Iran, was there to see it. “That was a big deal to have my dad there. It was a big deal because tennis is a sport that is so lonely and to be able to play it for someone else, for something else, for something bigger than you yet connected to you, is a great sense of fulfilment. It was an out-of-body experience being on the podium.” 

– Sharapova said it was “tough to say” whether an Olympic gold is a greater achievement than winning a slam. “It would just be a different experience. We play for our country every single day, but it’s an individual sport. The Olympics is much more of a team effort, it’s not just tennis, but all the sports and athletes who are competing at the Games.”