OLYMPIC TENNIS HISTORY:
Tennis was one of the original nine Olympic sports in the first modern games held in Athens in 1896. The other eight sports were Athletics (a.k.a Track & Field), Cycling, Fencing, Gymnastics, Shooting, Swimming, Weightlifting and Wrestling.
More after the jump….
Irishman John Boland (above) became the first Olympic tennis singles champion (winning for Great Britain.) He had planned to visit the Games as a spectator and was surprised when a Greek friend entered him into the contest without his knowledge. He also won the doubles. Click here for more.
Charlotte Cooper (above) was the first woman champion in any Olympic sport, winning the women’s singles event in the 1900 Summer Games in Paris, the first Olympics open to female athletes. She won the mixed doubles, as well, with Reginald Doherty. Click here for more.
Tennis withdrew from the Olympics after the 1924 Games, not returning until 1984, as a 21-and-under demonstration event. The success of this event convinced the IOC to reintroduce tennis as a full medal sport at Seoul in 1988.
There are no mixed doubles on the current Olympic program, although it was an event in 1900, 1906, 1912, 1920, and 1924. (I vote “YES!” for bringing it back. How many Olympic sports boast men and women competing together? That would be cool.)
THE MEDAL COUNT:
Great Britain: 42.5 medals (I don’t know how you win half a medal – perhaps it’s because a doubles team could consist of players from different countries at one point. For example, John Boland won the doubles with a German partner in 1896.)
Since tennis was reinstated in the Olympics in 1988, three of the five men’s singles Gold medalists have never won a Grand Slam (Miloslav Mecir in ’88, Marc Rosset in ’92 and Nicolas Massu in ’04) but all five women’s singles Gold medalists have been multiple Slam winners (Graf, Capriati, Davenport, Venus and Henin.)
Serena Williams has not won a Gold in singles. She won Gold with her sister in 2000.
PLAYERS WITH OLYMPIC ROOTS:
“Many players on the tennis tour have Olympic roots. Lindsay Davenport’s father played volleyball in the 1968 Olympics. Leander Paes of India, a five-time Olympian, was conceived at the 1972 Munich Olympics. His father won a bronze medal in field hockey, and his mother was the captain of the Indian women’s basketball team. Svetlana Kuznetsova’s brother won a silver medal in cycling at the 1996 Olympics, and her father has coached six Olympic cyclists. Nadia Petrova’s mother won a bronze medal in the 400-meter relay in the Montreal Olympics. Andre Agassi’s father was an Olympic boxer for Iran.”