Olympic Sports - Tennis

Olympic Sports - Tennis
Tennis first appeared in the Olympics in 1896 in Athens, where Dublin born John Boland won the men’s singles title for the United Kingdom (Great Britain and Ireland). The sport flourished in the earlier part of the twentieth century, but was axed from the Olympic programme after the 1924 Paris Games. Great Britain gained numerous medals at these events. British stars include:

Dorothy Chambers, born in 1878 and author of Tennis for Ladies. Chambers won the women’s singles in the 1908 London Olympics – the tennis events were held at Wimbledon, home ground for Chambers who won seven Wimbledon singles titles.

Charlotte Cooper, born in Ealing in 1870, won gold Medals at the Paris Olympics in 1900 for women’s singles and mixed doubles. Cooper won five Wimbledon singles titles, the first in 1897.

Reggie and Laurie Doherty. Born in Wimbledon, three years apart, the Doherty brothers shone in the tennis world of the early twentieth century. At the 1900 Paris Olympics Laurie won Gold and Reggie Silver in the men’s singles. They played together in the men’s doubles - which they won - thus garnering two more Gold medals. Reggie partnered Charlotte Cooper in the mixed doubles, achieving another Gold. Reggie also gained a Gold in the London 1908 Olympics for men’s doubles, this time partnering George Hillyard. Between them the Doherty brothers won nine Wimbledon singles titles. Both brothers died young – Reggie at 38 and Laurie at 43 - due to ongoing health problems.

Kitty Godfree, who also won two Wimbledon titles, gained three medals (one of each colour) in 1920 at the Antwerp Olympics and two medals in 1924 at the Paris Olympics. An accomplished sportswoman, Godfree also excelled at badminton, lacrosse and skating.

Bristol born Edith Hannam, who won two Gold medals – for women’s singles and mixed doubles – at the 1912 Antwerp Olympics.

Londoner Dorothy Holman, who won Silver medals for women’s singles and women’s doubles at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics.

Tennis was not reinstated as an Olympic sport until 1988. At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics Tim Henman and Neil Broad gained Silver in the men’s doubles. To date this is Great Britain’s only appearance in the tennis medals table since 1924.

A few weeks after Wimbledon 2012 the courts open up again for the London 2012 tennis events. The grass courts will see men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles - the last time mixed doubles appeared at the Olympics was in 1924 in Paris.

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