Minnesotan wins gold medal at Rio Olympics by beating tennis legend

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Of all the ways to win your first gold medals, beating a legend of your sport is pretty much as good as it gets.

That's how it was for Rochester's Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who along with her partner Jack Sock beat Rajeev Ram and 7-time major, 4-time Olympic gold medal winner Venus Williams in an enthralling mixed doubles final.

Mattek-Sands and Sock overcame their American opponents 6-7, 6-1, 10-7 tiebreak to secure gold on Sunday.

At one point, they trailed 6-3 in the final tiebreak before reeling off six straight points, with KARE 11 noting Mattek-Sands thought she'd won it when they had their first match point – throwing a racket in the process – only to realize Sock's shot had gone out.

Here's the moment they won.


According to her WTA profile, the 31-year-old Minnesota native started playing tennis at the age of five, before making her professional at the age of just 14.

Now living in Arizona, she's a previous winner of the Hopman Cup and 2012 Australian mixed doubles title. The only blight on her record is listing the Green Bay Packers as her favorite football team.

The biography she's written on her website is quite an entertaining read and highlights her fiercely competitive nature, noting that she once got "pissed at school one day" when she was picked second for the soccer team at recess.

"The boys ended up apologizing to me after I threw a fit and scored a hat trick," she wrote. "Balance restored."

Mattek-Sands has been helped along the way by another pro tennis player from Rochester, doubles specialist Tim Butorac, who coached her for a few years earlier in her career and according to this interview from 2010 is the reason she has "really good volleys."

In winning on Sunday, Mattek-Sands and Sock denied Venus Williams her fifth consecutive Olympic gold medal, having won one in each of the last four games.


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