Olympic Preview: Tennis
First Olympic Appearance: 1896 (men); 1900 (women)
by Mike Morrison and Mark Zurlo
Did You Know?
It is thought that the word tennis comes from the French word tenez, meaning "play" or "take it."
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.
In 2012, there will be 56 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 56 players in the world on June 11, 2012 will be invited to participate.
The tennis competition at the London Games will be held at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, home of Wimbledon, one of the sport's four Grand Slam annual events. Founded in 1868 during the croquet craze, the club has 19 grass courts and five indoor courts. The club's famous Centre Court seats 15,000 fans who will witness some of the world's top professionals battle for the gold medal.