LONDON, England - On Saturday, Victoria Azarenka became the first player from Belarus ever to win an Olympic medal in tennis - but it only took her a day to raise the bar, as she and countryman Max Mirnyi claimed the gold medal in the mixed doubles, defeating Andy Murray and Laura Robson in the final.
Mirnyi and Azarenka, the No.1 seeds in the event, dropped the first set in 30 minutes but battled back hard for a 26 63 108 match tie-break victory.
Azarenka was asked about trying to play through the home crowd's loud support for their opponents. "It wasn't easy, for sure, but it was expected - I mean, if we came on court in London and everybody was cheering for us, it would be kind of weird, right?" she said. "We just tried to focus and take our chances because they were playing absolutely amazing. We just tried to stay in it and fight as much as we could. Once we had our chance, we were really focused on that.
"The Olympic Games was definitely one of the main goals for us the whole year, one of the main things we were preparing for. For us, for me, I'm just so overwhelmed with all of the emotions. It's just an amazing feeling, seriously."
Azarenka was asked how it compared to her bronze from singles, from being No.1 and from winning a Grand Slam. "It's very different emotions. It's a different accomplishment. The feeling I had yesterday on the court, winning a bronze, was absolutely amazing. But it's a dream come true for me to achieve a gold because I think every athlete in the world is dreaming about this prize to get. You don't get that many chances. In the Grand Slams you have a few more chances, and I'm definitely proud of those achievements, but this is special."
The Belarusian pair was also asked about the 2016 Olympic Games, to be held in Rio de Janeiro. "It's going to be an historical event - there's never been an Olympics in South America, am I right?" Mirnyi said. "From that respect, someone who gets a gold medal there is going to be a unique champion."
"I always wanted to visit Brazil, so I'm definitely going!" Azarenka added.
In the bronze medal match, No.3 seeds Mike Bryan and Lisa Raymond beat Christopher Kas and Sabine Lisicki, 63 46 104. Raymond, who has won all four Grand Slams in women's doubles and three of the four Grand Slams in mixed doubles (missing the Australian), collected her very first Olympic medal.
"Without question it's one of the greatest moments of my career!" Raymond beamed. "Winning and standing on the podium with Mike and the others was truly a once in a lifetime experience. It's a moment I will never forget!"