By Ashley Babich
MOST LIKELY TO BE CALLED A GOAT, in a good way: Serena Williams. (Duh.)
Completing her Golden Slam — winning all four Grand Slam titles and an Olympics gold medal in singles — Serena displayed her best tennis this side of age 30. Serena dismantled her opponents in outright domination (read: beating Maria Sharapova in the gold medal final, 6-0, 6-1, in an hour and three minutes). In addition, Serena’s last three opponents were the last three women to hold the No. 1 ranking. Please, let the Greatest Of All Time talk carry on while Serena continues her supreme level of awesomeness.
(And never far from controversy, chosen or not, Serena stirred the pot with her post-win celebration dance, otherwise known as the Crip Walk. Some see it as an act of pure joy; others take it as a nod to the gang associated with the name.)
Time out. Did I forget to mention that Serena also won an Olympic gold medal in doubles with her sister Venus, their second consecutive gold medal in doubles?
Okay. GOAT talk may resume.
MOST IMPROVED: Andy Murray
For a tennis player who has continuously frustrated his fans, and his nation, with his ability to make it to Grand Slam finals but his inability to win them, Andy Murray finally had his chance to savor victory. Finally! Did I already say that? I mean it.
There has been endless chatter about Murray being the sole hope for Great Britain’s success in the current tennis realm; after figuratively carrying the nation on his back all these years, and being unable to deliver the prize at Wimbledon, Murray literally wore the Union Jack on his back and brought home what some might say is even better than a Wimbledon title: the Olympic gold medal AT Wimbledon.
With an inspiring win over a slightly-flat Roger Federer, Murray got a taste of revenge for the loss to Federer four weeks ago to the day in the Wimbledon final. Considering that Murray had only won ONE set in the FOUR Grand Slam finals he’s reached, the 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 victory over Federer speaks volumes. Match point? An ace. #helloconfidence
Understanding that Murray’s chance to win an Olympic medal in London was literally only going to come around once, it is hard not to appreciate what a massive feat this is for him. Joy and tears all around, unless you are a Federer fan, who was denied his chance at a Golden Slam.
MOST LIKELY TO BE SENT TO THE PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE (aka the BRAVO studio): Ryan Harrison
At 20-years-old, Ryan Harrison was the youngest American tennis player on the team, and the one who struggled the most to balance emotion and passion. In his debut match at the Olympics, Harrison threw his racquet to the ground multiple times while losing to Santiago Giraldo 7-5, 6-3. The following day, Harrison apologized to the nation during an interview on BRAVO.
Said Harrison, “My actions were in no way trying to represent the country poorly. I feel terrible. I wish I could take it back. I am sorry to everyone I offended. I hope you can see the improvements from before.”
Harrison is thought by many to have a big role in the future of American tennis, but he is often criticized for his on-court temper. Though, it seems fair to mention that if he had not been representing the USA at the Olympics, a couple of racquet smashes would not have been particularly note-worthy. It will be interesting to see if this incident and resulting apology will have any effect on his future on-court temperament.
BEST DISPLAY OF TWINNING: Bob & Mike Bryan
Twinning! Sorry. Had to.
So, speaking of Golden Slams, the Bryan Brothers completed their own with a 6-4, 7-6 (2) gold medal win over the French duo of Michael Llodra and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The jumping and hugging that ensued after their win was full of pure joy, and hinted that this win was sweeter because of its rarity. The Bryan Brothers are approaching a total of 300 weeks as the world’s top-ranked doubles team and have won all four Grand Slams, three of them at least twice! But an Olympic gold medal was the missing piece.
As Bob Bryan said, “There’s no bigger match we’d rather win than that one, Centre Court, Wimbledon, for our country, for each other. We’re 34 years old, and we’ve played tennis since we were 2-years-old. That’s a lot of balls going across the net, and this is it. This is the top of the mountain.”
CUTEST CONGRATULATORY TWEET: Micaela Bryan
Speaking of the joyous Bryan Brothers…. Micaela Bryan, Bob’s 6-month-old daughter, is the star of a very adorable Twitter account and often tweets shout-outs to various players, in addition to her many delightful pictures. After her dad and uncle won their gold medals in doubles, this was tweeted to the world. #aww
MOST LIKELY TO STEAL THE SPOTLIGHT: Henry Caplan
Unsure who Henry Caplan is? We all were just 48 hours ago! Remember the little boy who appeared as if out of nowhere near Andy Murray’s box and yelled bravely for Murray to turn around and give him a hug? And then proceeded to bury his face in Murray’s shoulder in a way that made hundreds of thousands of people watching collectively say, “awwww” while wiping away tears? (Or was that just me?) I think in that exact moment, most people in the world wanted to give Murray a warm congratulatory hug, and this little 11-year-old just had the guts to ask for it.
As Caplan told the BBC, “I was hugging my dad and the next moment I was gone. I was down near the royal box area in front of Roger Federer’s family and then I hugged Andy Murray. I just thought I had to be there.”
Caplan says that Murray said to him, “anything for my fans.”
So many levels of adorable. Dare you not to smile.