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Olympic Games

Paris, France 25 July - 11 August 2024

Tennis at the Olympics: History, rules & team selection

3 MINUTE READ

How long has tennis been at the Olympics?

Tennis has been a part of the Olympics since the first Games back in 1896, where Britain’s John Boland took home the gold medal in both the men’s singles and doubles.

However, it was later excluded from the Games for a long period from 1924-1988. Tennis was included as a demonstration sport in 1968 (Guadalajara) and 1984 (Los Angeles), before making its full return at the 1988 Games in Seoul.

Tennis has remained in the Olympics ever since, with five events held across one week:

  • Men’s singles
  • Women’s singles
  • Men’s doubles
  • Women’s doubles
  • Mixed doubles

How does Olympics tennis work?

Like the tour and Grand Slam events, tennis at the Olympics is played as a straight knock-out tournament across each of the five events.

Olympics tennis matches are played as a best-of-three sets. Singles matches include three full tie-break sets, while doubles includes a match tie-break (first to 10) in place of the deciding set.

The winners of the semi-finals will go on to the gold medal match, while the losers play again in a bronze medal match.

Tennis at the Olympics can be played on any surface depending on the venue it’s hosted at. At the 2024 Paris Games it will be held on the clay courts of Roland Garros – home to the French Open.

 

How do tennis players qualify for the Olympics?

Players are selected by national sporting bodies. There are 172 quotas available across the five different events, but only a maximum of 12 players can qualify from each nation. Players can compete in more than one event.

To be eligible for qualification, players must have competed at the Davis Cup or Billie Jean King Cup under ITF rules.

Qualification is then determined by the ATP and WTA rankings. For the 2024 Paris Games, the ranking cut off is from 10 June.

Singles qualification:

  • 64 player draw
  • 56 of these are decided by rankings (only four players per nation)
  • The host nation has one spot secured per event
  • The other spots are filled by ITF Places (winners of continental winners or finalists and any Olympic or Grand Slam champions who don’t directly qualify.

Doubles qualification:

  • 32 team draw
  • Top 10 ATP and WTA double ranked players qualify – providing their partner is ranked inside the top 300 of any rankings
  • The host nation has one spot secured per event
  • The other spots are given based on the combined rankings of teams
  • Players who have already qualified for singles will get priority

Mixed doubles qualification:

  • 16 team draw
  • Only players who have qualified for singles or doubles draws already
  • One team per nation
  • The host nation has one spot secured per event
  • Spots are given based on combined rankings
Andy Murray vs Roger Federer - Men's Final | London 2012 Olympics

Great Britain history at the Olympics

Team GB have won 43 medals in tennis at the Olympics. This is more than any other nation in the history of the Games. Here’s the full breakdown of Team GB tennis medals at the Olympics:

  • Gold medals – 17
  • Silver medals – 14
  • Bronze medals – 12

Over the years, Team GB players have set records in tennis at the Olympics.

Kathleen ‘Kitty’ Godfree holds the joint record for the most Olympic tennis medals won by a single player with five – joint with Venus Williams.

Andy Murray is the only player to have won two singles gold medals in tennis at the Olympics and is the only singles player to become back-to-back champion. He has a total of three medals to his name having won silver with Laura Robson at London 2012.

Great Britain are also the one of two nations to have won every tennis event at a single Games in 1900 and 1908.

Reginald and Laurence Doherty were the first sibling pairing to win a tennis gold medal together, which has since been achieved by Venus and Serena Williams as well as Bob and Mike Bryan.

Here's a list of British players who have won multiple medals at the Olympic Games:

Player

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Total

Kathleen Godfree

1

2

2

5

Reginald Doherty

3

0

1

4

Charles Dixon

1

1

2

4

Andy Murray

2

1

0

3

Laurence Doherty

2

0

1

3

Major Ritchie

1

1

1

3

Harold Mahony

0

2

1

3

John Boland

2

0

0

2

Charlotte Cooper

2

0

0

2

Arthur Gore

2

0

0

2

Edith Hannam

2

0

0

2

Herbert Barrett

1

1

0

2

Max Woosman

1

1

0

2

George Caridia

0

2

0

2

Dorothy Holman

0

2

0

2

Arthur Norris

0

0

2

2

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