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A new world

Tennis

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Point by point, game by game, set by set, tennis is both fiercely contested and delightfully graceful. Men debuted in the Olympic Games at Athens 1896, women at Paris 1900. There are men’s and women’s singles and doubles, plus mixed doubles.
Spectator's Guide - Tennis
  • Tennis

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Schedule & Results

Schedule & Results

Tennis

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August21
Date Event Status

About

About

Aim of the game

Players must hit the ball with a racket over a net into the opponent’s area, winning a point when their rival does not manage to return it

Why should you watch this?

Big names in the sport, such as Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will give everything they have to try and take the Olympic title from Andy Murray, not to mention the women’s tournament, featuring Serena Williams, Ana Ivanovic and more stars

International Federation

ITF

Olympic debut

Athens 1896

Rules
  • Slice

    Slice

    The opposite of top spin, the player slices under the ball making it spin backwards and bounce low

  • Smash

    Smash

    A strong overhead volley that is usually very difficult to defend

  • Top spin

    Top spin

    When a player hits powerfully over the upper part of the ball it adds top spin, causing the ball to gain speed when it bounces on the opponent’s side

Impress your friends

  • Players used their hands to hit a ball against a wall in a 12th-century French game called ‘lawn tennis’. It was developed using rackets and garden courts

    Players used their hands to hit a ball against a wall in a 12th-century French game called ‘lawn tennis’. It was developed using rackets and garden courts

  • Men’s tennis started at the Athens 1896 Games and women joined at Paris 1900, when Britain’s Charlotte Cooper became the first female Olympic champion

    Men’s tennis started at the Athens 1896 Games and women joined at Paris 1900, when Britain’s Charlotte Cooper became the first female Olympic champion

  • At Atlanta 1996, the hosts took 3 of the 4 golds as Lindsay Davenport and Andre Agassi won the singles, and Gigi and Mary Joe Fernandéz won the women’s doubles

    At Atlanta 1996, the hosts took 3 of the 4 golds as Lindsay Davenport and Andre Agassi won the singles, and Gigi and Mary Joe Fernandéz won the women’s doubles

  • At the Athens 2004, Chile won its first Olympic gold medals in any sport when Nicolás Massú triumphed in the men's singles and doubles, with Fernando González

    At the Athens 2004, Chile won its first Olympic gold medals in any sport when Nicolás Massú triumphed in the men's singles and doubles, with Fernando González

  • American sisters Venus and Serena Williams are the only professional tennis players to have won four medals – and all of them are gold

    American sisters Venus and Serena Williams are the only professional tennis players to have won four medals – and all of them are gold

  • Considered the greatest of all time, Roger Federer won doubles gold in 2008 and singles silver in 2012, making Rio 2016 his last chance to win the Olympic singles title

    Considered the greatest of all time, Roger Federer won doubles gold in 2008 and singles silver in 2012, making Rio 2016 his last chance to win the Olympic singles title

  • The USA’s John Isner beat France’s Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68 at Wimbledon 2010 – played over three days, it is the longest ever tennis match

    The USA’s John Isner beat France’s Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68 at Wimbledon 2010 – played over three days, it is the longest ever tennis match

  • Australian Samuel Groth officially hit the fastest service of all time, clocked at 263kmph, during an 2012 ATP Challenger event in Busan, the Republic of Korea

    Australian Samuel Groth officially hit the fastest service of all time, clocked at 263kmph, during an 2012 ATP Challenger event in Busan, the Republic of Korea

  • Rafa Nadal beat Roger Federer 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (12-10) in a 2007 exhibition match called ‘The Battle of the Surfaces’ – played on a court of one half clay and one half grass

    Rafa Nadal beat Roger Federer 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (12-10) in a 2007 exhibition match called ‘The Battle of the Surfaces’ – played on a court of one half clay and one half grass

  • American Jennifer Capriati is the youngest Olympic champion in history: she was 16 years and 132 days old when she won the women’s competition in Barcelona 1992

    American Jennifer Capriati is the youngest Olympic champion in history: she was 16 years and 132 days old when she won the women’s competition in Barcelona 1992

  • Britain’s John Pius Boland went to Athens 1896 as a fan but was convinced by Greek player Dionysios Kasdaglis to dispute the tennis – Boland beat Kasdaglis in the final

    Britain’s John Pius Boland went to Athens 1896 as a fan but was convinced by Greek player Dionysios Kasdaglis to dispute the tennis – Boland beat Kasdaglis in the final

  • British brothers Hugh and Reginald Doherty were to meet in the Paris 1900 semi-finals, but Reginald refused to play. His younger sibling reached the final, and won

    British brothers Hugh and Reginald Doherty were to meet in the Paris 1900 semi-finals, but Reginald refused to play. His younger sibling reached the final, and won

  • When a player does not have any points their score is called ‘love’ – it’s nothing to do with romance, but in reference to the egg-like shape of the number 0 – ‘l’oeuf’ in French

    When a player does not have any points their score is called ‘love’ – it’s nothing to do with romance, but in reference to the egg-like shape of the number 0 – ‘l’oeuf’ in French

Scoring

The first point is called 15, the second 30 and the third 40. The next point wins the game, but it must be by a two-point margin. If the score is tied at 40-40 (deuce) a player must win the ‘advantage’ before they can win the game.

The first player to reach six games – by a margin of two – wins the set. If a set is tied at 5-5, one player must win 7-5. Matches are contested in the best of three sets, except for the men’s singles final, which is the best of five sets. A tie-break is used to decide a set that is tied at 6-6, so long as it’s not the deciding set. The first player to reach seven points, by at least two, wins. 

If a mixed doubles match reaches 1-1 in sets, it is decided by a ‘match tie-break’ in which the first duo to score 10 points, by at least two, wins.

Service

A coin is tossed and the winner can choose if they want to serve or receive first, leaving their opponent to decide which end they start at. If the winner prefers to choose ends, their opponent decides whether to serve or receive first. A ball (or asterisk) indicates which tennis player has the service.

The first serve of each game must be taken from the right-hand side of the court, with subsequent serves alternating sides. The ball must cross the court (right to left, or left to right) and bounce inside the opponent’s service box.

A player has two attempts to serve on each point: the first attempt is usually faster and more risky, the second is generally more conservative – because a ‘double fault’ hands the point to the opponent.

Equipment

Ball: is made of rubber and covered by felt hairs, it weighs 56 to 59.4g and has a diameter of 6.5 to 7.3cm. After the two halves have been glued together, a nitrogen tablet is heated until it bursts inside, filling the ball with a gas that makes it bounce.

Racket: the frame is almost always made of carbon materials. The strings can be nylon, polyester or Kevlar, but most top players use strings made of natural tripe – the intestines of cows or sheep. The maximum racket length is 73.7cm, maximum width is 31.7cm and average weight is 300g.

Net: must be 1.07m high at the sides of the court, but at the centre of the court it is naturally slightly lower, at 0.914m.

Updates

Stats

Top Medalists

Men
gbr
Reginald Doherty
3 0 1 4
gbr
Charles Percy Dixon
1 1 2 4
swe
Gunnar Setterwall
0 2 2 4
Women
usa
Venus Williams
4 0 0 4
usa
Serena Williams
4 0 0 4
esp
Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario
0 2 2 4

Countries

Athletes

Athletes & Teams

Gender

Gender
Woman 47
Men 53
Women
Men

Age Range

Age Range
Under 15 0
16 - 20 3
21 - 25 28
26 - 30 40
31 - 40 29
Over 40 1
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