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Top facts about tennis at the Olympics

Wed 21 July 2021 | 15:30

A look at the Top facts about tennis at the Olympics' history as well as many interesting facts about the lives of the medal winners among men and women players.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is finally upon us after being postponed a year due to COVID-19 pandemic. The upcoming event will be held at Japan from 24 July to 9 August 2020. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the games will mostly held under closed doors.

Tennis has been one of the most exciting events of the Olympics since it was reinstated in 1988 after 64 years of absence. Many of the legendary tennis players of the world have won Olympic medals and although the Olympic medal is not the most important individual title in the tennis world, the winners have stated many times that the feeling of winning a medal is not comparable with any Grand Slam title.

193 players will battle each other in five events: singles and doubles for both men and women and the mixed doubles which has returned to the Olympics for the third consecutive time. Some of the best tennis players have skipped the tournament for various reasons, but there are still many stars who will try to write history at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In the following article we present you with a list of the top

facts about tennis at the Olympics

.

A complete collection of the top facts about tennis at the Olympics

We start the article with some of the general facts about tennis at the Olympics and then will move on with some interesting facts about the lives and the careers of all the medal winners at the history of tennis at the Olympics.

General facts about tennis at the Olympics

Tennis was first included in a Summer Olympic sport in the 1896 Olympic Games, which was held in Athens, Greece.

In the first Olympic Games, only two tournaments were played: men's singles and men's doubles. Women were allowed to compete in singles and mixed doubles tennis events at the next Olympic Games in 1900, held in Paris, France.

Tennis was not included in the official Olympic program from 1928 and 1984. It was re-included as a medal sport in 1988.

In the first ever tennis event at the Olympics (1896), winners were not given a gold, but a silver medal. The runners-ups were given a bronze medal and there were no medals for the third place. So the records of the event were later retroactively assigned by the International Olympic Committee.

In 1896, 1900, 1904, 1988, and 1992, semifinal losers shared bronze medals. In all other years, a playoff match for the bronze medal was staged.

Women's singles have been held a total of 13 times at the history of the Olympics. No player has been able to win the event twice. The famous German player, Steffi Graf is the only one who has won two medals in Women's singles. (A Gold Medal in 1988 and a silver in 1992)

With 5 medals each, Kathleen McKane Godfree (one gold, two silvers, and two bronzes) and Venus Williams (four gold, one silver) are the all-time record holders for the most Olympic medals in tennis.

The famous American sisters, Venus Williams and Venus Williams are the record holders with four gold medals. Between them, Venus has another silver and is the record holder in the overall category.

The famous English player, Andy Murray is the only player among male and female players who has won two Gold medals in men's singles. What's more impressive about it is that he won two back to back gold medals in the 2012 and the 2016 Olympic Games, the first one of which was against Roger Federer.

Among all the winners of the Gold medal in the history of the Women's singles events, 5 have been from the USA. The Great Britain and France have won two Golds each and four countries (Germany, Belgium, Russia, and Puerto Rico) have won one Gold Medal.

With 5 Gold medals, the Great Britain is the record holder at the men's singles in the history of the Olympics. The United States has won 3 gold medals and at third is South Africa with 2 medals. Five countries (Spain, Chile, Russia, Switzerland and Czechoslovakia) have won one Gold Medal.

If a player wins an Olympic gold medal and all four Grand Slam events in the same year, He is said to have won a Golden Slam. The legendary German player, Steffi Graf is the only player among men and women to have completed this achievement.

Top facts about the Medal winners in the history of tennis at the Olympics

In this part of our article on top

facts about tennis at the Olympics

we will have a look at the most interesting facts about the lives and the careers of the medal winners throughout the history of the Olympic Games. First we will go through the lives of Medal winners in the 'Classic Era' of tennis at the Olympics which starts from 1896 Olympics at Athens and ends with the 1924 Olympic games at Paris. As we said at the start of the article, Tennis was not included in the official Olympic program from 1928 and 1984. It was re-included as a medal sport in 1988.

The Classic Era

Tennis had the first chapter of its history at the Olympics from 1896 to 1924, which is famous as the Classic era. Stay tuned to read the most entertaining facts about tennis at the Olympics.

1896

The first ever gold medal winner in men's singles, John Pius Boland did not even planned to participate at the Olympics. The story goes that he was visiting his friend, Thrasyvoulos Manos in Athens during the Olympics and it was Manos who registered Boland's name for the events. Boland ended up winning the single's title while the two friends won the doubles together as well. Despite all of his achievements as a tennis player, John Pius Boland was in fact more of a politician than an athlete. He even became a member of parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

Silver medalist in 1896, Momcilo Tapavica was a well-known architect. Among his notable works from this period are the German Embassy and National Bank in Cetinje.

1900

At the 1900 Olympic Games at Paris, Charlotte Cooper became the first woman to win the Gold medal at the Women's singles. Cooper also won five Wimbledon titles during her career. In addition to the Gold medal at the 1900 Olympics, she also won Gold in the doubles. Cooper Married Alfred Sterry, a solicitor, who became president of the Lawn Tennis Association. She had two children, both pursued a career in tennis. Cooper was deaf since she was 26 years old until she died in 1966.

Gold medal winner in Men's singles in 1900, Laurence Doherty was the younger brother of that year's bronze winner, Reginald Doherty.

Five years after winning the silver medal at the 1900 Olympics, Harold Mahony was killed in a bicycling accident while descending a steep hill. He was 38 years old at the time of his death.

Silver medal winner in 1900, Robert LeRoy was 19 years old when he played at the Olympics. He also won the silver medal of the doubles event that year

1904

Alphonzo Bell won the Bronze medal in men's singles in 1904. He was a very famous oil multi-millionaire, real estate developer and philanthropist. He came from a family with historical ties with the city of Los Angles. His daughter, Minnewa married US president, Franklin Roosevelt's son, Elliott.

1908

The Gold Medal winner at the Women's singles event in the 1908 Olympics, Dorothea Lambert Chambers also won five Wimbledon titles during her career. She kept on playing into her fifties and famously won a single and a double title at the Wightman Tournament at the age of 46. For his accomplishments, She was induced the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1981.

The winner of Silver medal in men's singles in 1908 Olympics, Otto Froitzheim had a very eventful life. He was a prisoner at the First World War He later joined the Police department in Berlin and had his life endangered once again after refusing to join the SA during the World War two. However, he was saved by his tennis background as Hermann Göring was a fan of his skills.

Harold Kitson was Charles Winslow's partner in the men's doubles event in 1908 the two won the Gold medal. It was a different story in the men's singles as Winslow defeated Kitson to win the event.

Josiah Ritchie won a total of three medals in the 1908 Olympics. A Gold in Men's Singles, a Silver in Men's Doubles and Bronze medal in Men's Indoor Singles. He was the last player from Britain to win an Olympic medal in singles until Andy Murray won the Gold medal in the 2012 games. Ritchie authored two books, one about tennis and the other about table tennis.

1912

Bronze medal winner in men's singles, Oscar Kreuzer was also a very famous rugby player who played many caps for Germany national rugby team. Kreuzer was a prisoner during the World War one. He was playing a semi-final game at Pittsburg by the time the World War I broke out. On his way back to Germany, their boat was attacked near Gibraltar by a British warship. They were placed in a prison in Gibraltar for several months before being sent to detention camps in England.

1920

Ichiya Kumagae was the first Japanese ever to win a medal at the Olympics. He won two silver medals in the 1920 events, one in men's singles and the other in men's doubles. Kumagae authored two books on tennis, one was a manual which was published in 1951.

Suzanne Lenglen, The Gold medal winner at Women's singles in 1920, is widely considered as the best women tennis player from the amateur era. During her career, she won 8 Grand Slam singles titles, 10 World Championship titles and 6 Wimbledon titles. Nicknamed The Goddess by the French media, she had a premature death at 39.

The Silver medal winner in 1920, Godfree is the record holder for most Olympic medals ever won by a tennis player with five medals at the 1920 Antwerp and 1924 Paris games. She married another tennis player, Leslie and the two are the only married couple ever to win the mixed doubles championship at Wimbledon.

1924

Helen Wills won the Gold medal in women's singles in 1924 She was the World's best women tennis player in a total of nine years. She used to play against men to improve her skills. She famously beat a top US male player in an exhibition match in 1933. She was also a poet and published two of her works.

Vincent Richards won the last Gold medal in Men's singles before tennis's exclusion from the Olympics. He is one of only two American male tennis players to win the gold medal in both singles and doubles (the other player was Beals Wright who achieved the feat in the 1904 Olympics). He was also the first ever prominent tennis player to turn pro in 1927.

Silver medal winner in 1924, Henri Cochet was one of the four great French players who dominated the Tennis World in the 20s. The group was famously nicknamed the Four Musketeers. Cochet was a World War 2 captive and was not allowed to leave France. As a result he did not play at any international tournaments until after the World Cup.

The Modern Era

The second chapter of Tennis's history at the Olympics has started since 1988 and is famous as the Classic era. Stay tuned to read the most entertaining

facts about tennis at the Olympics

.

1988

Steffie Graf won the first Gold medal in Women's singles in the modern Era. She was the only tennis player to achieve the Golden Slam by winning all four Grand Slam singles titles and the Olympic gold medal in the same calendar year. She is also the only player, male or female, to have won each Grand Slam tournament at least four times.

Gold medal winner in men's singles in 1988, Miloslav Mecir had a career-long rivalry with his Swedish opponents, especially Mats Wilander. He was known as the "Swede Killer" for the success that he had against Swedish players.

The Swedish Bronze winner in 1988, Stefan Edberg was a child prodigy. He famously won all four Grand Slam junior titles in 1983 to become the first and only player to achieve the Junior Grand Slam in the open era. Another bizarre fact about Stefan Edberg is that he accidently caused the death of a linesman named Dick Wertheim with an errant serve during the 1983 US Open. The ball hit Wertheim in the groin and caused him to fall on his head.

According Silver Medal winner in 1988, Gabriela Sabatini, was so shy at her youth that she used to deliberately lose her semi-final matches to avoid the interview on court after the final. 

1992

The 1992 Gold winner in women's singles, Jennifer Capriati started his professional career at the age of 13 and became the youngest ever player to reach the top ten in the Women's ranking one year later. She won the Olympic gold medal when she was 16 years old. Soon after bursting into the scenes, Capriati had a difficult time and had to leave the sport for almost 14 months, during which he was arrested few times for shoplifting and possession of Marijuana.

Marc Rosset's Gold medal in 1992 was a hard fought win as he defeated five title challengers, Jim Courier, Goran Ivanisevic, Wayne Ferreira, and Emilio Sánchez on his way to the final. Rosset was the greatest Swiss tennis player before the emergence of Roger Federer. He played four times against his successor and registered a 2-2 record. Another interesting fact about his life is that Rosset once escaped death when he decided to change his flight plans after a first-round loss at the US Open in September 1998. The flight he was supposed to take later crashed, killing everyone on board.

1996

Legendary American player Andre Aggassi won the men's singles Gold in 1996. After reaching the No. 1 rank for the first time in 1995, Agassi had a crisis in his personal life which affected his career as he sank to No, 141 in the ranking only two years later. Many believed his career was over, but he came back strong and enjoyed the most successful spell of his career in the following four years. In his personal life, Agassi dated the famous American actress, Barbara Streisand for few years in the 90s, although Streisand was 28 years older than him. Agassi married Legendary German tennis player, Steffi Graf who won the 1988 Gold medal at the Olympics. The two have been living together since 2001 and have two children.

Bronze medal winner in 1996, Leander Paes is the first Indian and only tennis player to compete at seven Olympic Games.

Gold Medal winner in 1996 (Women's singles), Lindsay Davenport was born into a family of athletes. Her father, Wink Davenport, was a member of the U.S. volleyball team at the 1968 Olympics and her mother, Ann Davenport is the president of the Southern California Volleyball Association. Her two sister also pursuit a professional career at volleyball.

2000

Venus Williams won her first of five gold medals in the 2000 Olympics. She was a child prodigy. She was discovered by a tennis coach at the age of 6. Williams was once had to withdraw from a match after being diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease which causes fatigue and muscle and joint pain. She only played three exhibition matches in the remainder of that year, one of which was against her sister.

Bronze winner in 2000, Monica Seles once had a very turbulent life period at which she was stabbed and also lost her father because of cancer. She later wrote a memoir of this period and her struggle with depression.

Famous Russian player and the 2000 Gold winner in men's singles, Kafelnikov's had a Controversial retirement from tennis is 2003. it was rumored that he decided to retire because of ATP's desire to avoid a betting scandal considering his match in Lyon against Fernando Vicente. Yevgeny Kafelnikov had a career as a Poker player after his retirement from tennis.

2004

Gold medal winner in 2004, Nicolas Massu was nicknamed 'the Vampire' by his fans. He is the only male player to have won both the singles and doubles gold medals during the same games in modern Olympic tennis (since 1988). His two gold medals are the only ones Chile has won at the Olympics history.

Silver medal winner in 2004, Mardy fish was a semi-professional basketball and Golf Player. Fish's father was a tennis instructor. In 1984 a Minneapolis TV station ran a profile of Fish, at the age of two, hitting tennis balls from the baseline over the net. Another amazing fact about Mardy Fish is that he had a group of fans called The Fishheads who travel with him and cheer him on during matches.

The Chilean famous player, Fernando Gonzalez won the 2004 Bronze and the 2008 Silver in men's singles. He is the fourth male tennis player ever to have won each Olympic medal (gold in doubles and bronze in singles at Athens 2004, and silver in singles at Beijing 2008)

2008

Rafael Nadal won the 2008 Gold in men's singles. Nadal's uncle is the former Barcelona and Spanish national team player, Miguel Angel Nadal. Rafa himself had to choose between football and Tennis when he was 14 years old and Tennis was his immediate pick. Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo are his favorite team and player. In 2010, Rafael Nadal featured in the music video of one of Shakira's songs named, Gypsy.

Dinara Safina won the silver medal in Women's singles in 2008. She is the younger sister of former world number one men's player Marat Safin. The brother–sister pair are the first to both achieve No. 1 rankings. Safina's mother was her coach since her childhood years and his father was the director of the Spartak Moscow tennis club. Safina's mother was a famous hockey player and won the bronze medal at the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games.

2012

The legendary American player, Serena Williams won the Women's singles Gold medal in 2012. An interesting fact about her career is that she won the 2017 Australian Open while she was nine-week pregnant. Williams played over a thousand matched during her career before retiring in 2021 at the age of 39.She is married to Reddit co-founder, Alexis Ohanian. Their first daughter is named, Alexis Olympia and is often referred to as Olympia.

Maria Sharapova won the Silver medal in 2012. She was the first Russian female tennis player to top the singles rankings. An interesting fact about her childhood is that her parents left their homeland shortly before her birth, because they were concerned about the regional effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident.

Novak Djokovic won his first and only Olympic medal in 2012 (A Bronze in 2008). He is famous for his ability to perform impressions of other famous players. During the 2007 US Open, Djokovic did a comedic impression of Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova on the court and to the delight of the crowd.

Andy Murray's first Gold medal (2012 in men's singles) was Britain's Olympic singles gold medal in tennis since Josiah Ritchie won in 1908.

Federer won the men's single's Silver in 2012. He was the flagbearer for Switzerland in the opening ceremony at both the Athens and Beijing Olympic Games. In 2016, Federer was ranked No. 1 in the list for the most famous people in Switzerland, ahead of personalities such as Albert Einstein, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and novel character Heidi.

2016

Monica Puig was the first Latin American champion in the women's singles history (2016) and is the only unseeded female player to win the gold medal since the reintroduction of tennis in 1988.

Angelique Kerber (Silver medal winner in women's singles) was born right-handed but plays with her left hand. Keber started playing tennis at the age of 3. She used to live in a tennis academy, which was were her parent were working when she was a child.

Petra Kvitova won the Bronze medal in the 2016 Olympics. That same year was the victim of an armed robbery at her apartment. She suffered from serious injuries to her left hand and fingers while trying to defend herself. The attacker was later arrested and sentenced to a total of 11 years in jail.

By winning the 2016 men's single's Bronze medal, Kei Nishikori became the first Japanese man to win an Olympic tennis medal since Ichiya Kumagae in the 1920 Summer Olympics.

So here you had it. Our complete collection of the top

facts about tennis at the Olympics

. Which part did you like the most? Any interesting facts you would want to share with us? Let us know in the comment's section.

 

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