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"the most important thing in the olympic games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well" baron pierre de coubertin [founder of the modern olympic movement].

history []

when irishman john boland travelled to athens for the first modern olympic games in 1896, he had no idea he would return home with the gold medal in tennis. but then, he had no idea he would compete either - he went as a spectator.

times have changed dramatically for olympic tennis since then. today's olympic tennis players include some of the highest-profile athletes in the world. accustomed to five-star hotels and high-stakes prize money, at the olympic games they will bunk in the olympic Village and compete for nothing but a gold medal.

tennis was dropped from the olympic programme after 1924 amid turmoil over such issues as where to draw the line between amateurism and professionalism. due to the persistence of then itf president philippe chatrier and general secretary david gray, tennis reemerged as a demonstration sport in the los angeles games in 1984 and was officially reinstated as an olympic sport in the seoul games in 1988.

tennis began to evolve into the game we play today at the end of the 16th century with the manufacturing of the first stringed rackets and the setting of rules. in 1858, the first modern tennis court was constructed in the suburbs of birmingham.

the first tennis club was founded in 1872. shortly after, tennis became popular in the british empire and spread around the world. the first men’s’ tournament was conducted at the “all-england club” facilities in 1877. the first women’s tournament took place in 1884 at the same courts.

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lisa raymond website
since july 2002

Antwerp 1920. Credit: IOC Olympic Museum Collections

did you know...
... suzanne lenglen was one of the greatest women tennis players of all time. between 1919 and 1926, she lost only one match. in the ten sets it took her to win the 1920 olympic title, she lost only four games. lenglen teamed with max decugis to win another gold medal in mixed doubles and with elisabeth d'ayen to win a bronze in women's doubles.

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