First Olympic Appearance: 1896 (men); 1900 (women)
by Mike Morrison and Mark Zurlo
While tennis was, in fact, one of the sports in the original Olympic games in 1896, it was removed from Olympic competition between 1924 and 1988 due largely to debates over amateurism and time conflicts with Wimbledon. When it returned in 1988, all professionals were welcome.
Steffi Graf has won a total of 22 grand slam singles titles over her brilliant career, but enjoyed one of her most gratifying moments as a tennis player in 1988 when she won the gold for her native West Germany. In 1996, Americans Andre Agassi and Lindsay Davenport used their home court advantage to its fullest, winning their first-ever gold medals in Atlanta.
The games will be played at the Olympic Tennis Center of the Athens Olympic Sports Complex. The hard surface is the same one used at the U.S. Open. All the same rules of regular tournament tennis apply.
There will be 48 players in both the men's and women's brackets and 32 teams in both the men's doubles and women's doubles. Like most tournaments, the top 16 players/teams will be seeded and distributed throughout their respective brackets, in order to avoid the top players competing against each other too early. The tournaments are single-elimination—one loss and you're out. All matches are best-of-three sets, except the men's finals and the men's doubles finals, which are best-of-five. The top 48 players in the world on June 9, 2008 will be invited to participate.
The tennis competition at the Beijing Games will be held at the Olympic Green Tennis Center, which will feature ten competition courts and six training courts. The facility will seat up to 17,400 fans who will witness some of the world's top professionals battle for the gold medal.
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