Just three weeks after the end of the annual grand slam tournament, Wimbledon will once again welcome the best players in the world for the London 2012 Olympic Games Tennis competition.

Did you know?

The first tennis balls were made of wool or hair, wrapped up in leather.
The first tennis rackets were wooden, with strings made of sheep or bovine intestines.
One theory behind the unusual scoring system used in a tennis game relates to the presence of a clock on the court. People think that the clock hand was moved forward by 15 minutes a time to record the score.
Tennis gets its name from the French ‘tenez’, which means ‘here you go’. Players used to shout this phrase before they served the ball.
‘Love’ – the term for ‘no points’ in tennis – is thought to come from the French word ‘l’oeuf’, meaning ‘egg’ – the shape of a zero.
King Henry VIII was a champion in ‘real (or ‘royal’) tennis’ – a precursor of the modern sport.

Key facts

Venue: Wimbledon
Dates: Saturday 28 July – Sunday 5 August
Events: Men’s and women’s Singles and Doubles; Mixed Doubles
Medal events: 5
Athletes: 172 (86 men, 86 women)

Every four years, the Olympic Tennis tournament attracts the world’s top stars. At Beijing in 2008, for instance, Rafael Nadal won the men’s Singles, while the Williams sisters triumphed in the women’s Doubles. All the players will be aiming for a showdown on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, where the Olympic champions will be crowned.

The basics

The Tennis competition at London 2012 will feature five medal events. Along with men’s and women’s Singles and men’s and women’s Doubles, Mixed Doubles will be making its first Olympic appearance since 1924.

All matches will be the best of three sets with the exception of the men’s Singles final, which will be the best of five sets, and all Mixed Doubles matches, which will be resolved by a first-to-10 tie-break if they reach one set all.

At London 2012, the Tennis tournament will be played according to a knockout format, with the winners of the semi-finals in each event going head-to-head on Centre Court for the gold medals.

Olympic Tennis, past and present

Tennis appeared at the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 but was dropped from the programme after the Paris 1924 Games. It returned 64 years later, with Miloslav Mečíř (Czechoslovakia) and Steffi Graf (West Germany) winning gold in the two singles tournaments at Seoul 1988.

The Tennis competition at London 2012 will be held on the grass courts of Wimbledon, which has its own Olympic history. The venue staged the Tennis competition when London first hosted the Olympic Games in 1908, with Great Britain winning all six gold medals

Jargon buster

  • Ace: A legal serve that the opposing player fails to touch with their racket
  • Baseline: The far boundary line at either end of the court
  • Lob: A ball hit high in the air, usually deep into the opponent’s court
  • Love: No points; zero
  • Tie-break: If the score in games reaches 6-6 in anything other than the deciding set, there is a tie-break, won by the first player or doubles team to reach seven points with a margin of at least two clear points. A first-to-10 tie-break is also used to decide Mixed Doubles matches that reach one set all.

Get Get Involved

The Lawn Tennis Association  (LTA) runs various schemes to help young people in Britain get started and become winners. Your local club is the best place to learn, and public courts are a great place to practice your skills. The LTA website includes a ‘Find a Club’ facility, while the Active Places website  also allows you to search for indoor courts in England.

For information about Tennis in Northern Ireland go to the Ulster branch of Tennis Ireland.

Or for more on the sport, see the website of the International Tennis Federation (

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~ by superbowlnyc on February 20, 2011.

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