Coming into 2012, there were concerns about Serena Williams. Is she past her prime? Can she still hang with the young guns like Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova on a daily basis? Can she still win on a consistent basis? At the beginning of the year, Serena Williams played like someone who was not sure where her career was going. She lost in the Fourth Round of the Australian Open and in the first round of the French Open in what was one of the biggest upsets of the Open Era. At this point in 2012, Williams had two singles titles yet had not quite found the consistency she needed. She was still losing matches she should be winning, and the criticisms of her started to become more pronounced. All that happened after this was one of the greatest stretches of tennis in the history of the game. From her first round loss at Roland Garros to Virginie Razzano on, Williams lost one match and dominated the WTA Tour. This amazing run started at one of the most hallowed venues in the game, the All-England Club.
Wimbledon was two weeks of many highs and lows for Serena Williams, but she finally seemed to find that consistency she would need to salvage an average season by her standards. This reversal of fortune started at Wimbledon, as Williams overcame inspired performances by several players, including Agnieszka Radwanska in her first-ever Major Final. This was Major No. 14, and, interestingly enough, not the only one of 2012. Before I get to that, it is important to note what seemed to happen at Wimbledon. Serena Williams seemed to re-discover her swagger and confidence on court. No more was she walking out onto a court hoping she would win. It was starting at the All-England Club in June that she began to walk out onto court knowing she would win. This high level of play continued back in California at a US Open Series Event. This decision to return back to the United States between Wimbledon and the Olympics, which were also being played at the All-England Club, was questioned by many, but it seemed to work out well for the American veteran.
The 2012 Olympic Games proved to be a vital moment in the career of Serena Williams. For someone who has accomplished so much in her professional tennis career, the younger Williams was still searching for a Gold Medal in Singles. There was little doubt that 2012 was the year in which this would all change. Serena ran through the Singles tournament at the Olympics, not dropping a set, and not giving up more than 3 games in a single set. This Gold Medal performance was capped off by a 6-0 6-1 dismantling of Maria Sharapova. And if her first ever Gold Medal in Singles was not enough, Serena captured the Gold Medal in Women's Doubles with older sister Venus. They also did not drop a set the entire tournament. Serena Williams played in one more event before the last Grand Slam of 2012, the US Open. This tournament, the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, served as the location for her first loss in singles since the French Open. This loss, which was a 6-4 6-4 drubbing by German up-and-comer Angelique Kerber, seemingly brought Williams back down to Earth and made her even more focused for the US Open, which was a scary thought for every other woman on the WTA Tour.
As many people expected, the 2012 US Open in Flushing Meadows, NY was another Serena Williams Show. She absolutely dominated her first six opponents, dominating every set she played. This streak of excellence set up a showdown in the US Open Final against World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus. This match went back and forth and was closer than almost anyone thought it would be. However, right when it seemed like Williams was down and out in the final set, she found an extra boost of energy and rallied past Azarenka to win her 15th Major Championship and second one of 2012. The scary thing aout this all was that it did not stop in New York. It had one more stop...Istanbul, Turkey.
Istanbul, Turkey hosts the year-end WTA Championships every year, and the 2012 Edition seemed ready to be a great week of tennis featuring the best women in the world. However, it turned into the last stop of Serena Williams's 2012 Global Domination Tour. Williams played five matches against Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber, Li Na, Agnieszka Radwanska, and Maria Sharapova, and did not drop a set. The Final against Sharapova was a vintage Serena Williams performance. She dominated in every facet of the game and showed off her tremendous movement in a 6-4 6-3 victory. This week of great play in Turkey capped off a year for Williams in which she was 53-4 in Singles and won 6 Singles Titles, including two Grand Slams and the Olympics. Even though Williams will finish the year as the No. 3 player in the world, there is no doubt that she is the greatest female player in the world. And, just as a warning, do not expect this to change anytime soon.