In order to make it to the gold-medal game at the London 2012 Olympics, American superstar Serena Williams needed to defeat Jelena Jankovic in the opening ground. Jankovic is a former world #1, currently ranked #18. She has appeared in three grand-slam semifinals matches.
In that same round, so-called “Russian” Maria Sharapova only needed to defeat Shahar Peer. Peer is currently ranked #58 in the world and has never ranked higher than #13 in her career. Peer has never once in her life been in a grand-slam semi.
This pattern continued throughout the tournament. Williams then had to defeat current #13 and former world #2 Vera Zvonareva, who has appeared in two grand-slam finals. Next was former world #1 Caroline Wozniaki, followed by current world #1 Victoria Azarenka, both current top-10 players.