Don’t put away that recipe for strawberries and cream just yet. Olympic tennis is about to begin and it’s going to be at the All England Club in Wimbledon!
Ah, tennis. It’s a sport I played and loved for years. I grew up with Edberg, Graf, Seles, and Agassi. Being a nostalgic person, I miss those days. I still love the sport, and I miss playing. But I gotta say, I’m not a fan of tennis being in the Olympics. Now, granted, I did go and watch tennis at the 1996 Olympics. I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to see some of my favorite players! But I don’t think it should be an Olympic sport. It’s the whole professional athletes being in the Olympics issue. Much like NBA players, many Olympic tennis players are worth millions, earning outrageous amounts of prize money. While I very much respect and admire tennis players, they belong in the Olympics about as much as Tiger Woods belongs in Olympic golf (which will be part of the 2016 Olympics).
The 1948 Olympics didn’t include tennis. The sport was removed from the games from 1930 to 1988. The 1908 Olympics did include tennis; and it not only featured tennis on the lawns at Wimbledon, but indoor singles events for men and women! Great Britain, at the time a dominating force in tennis, almost swept all events, winning 15 of the 18 medals! Two of its star were Dorothea Lambert Chambers and Josiah Ritchie, pictured above.
It’s not as easy to look at the world rankings or the 2008 Olympics and make predictions. With tennis, a lot depends on the surface. If, for example, 2012 Olympic tennis was to be played on clay, then I’d never pick Roger Federer. Nor would I pick Serena Williams. With these Olympics being played on grass, I would be crazy to not say that Roger Federer and Serena Williams are the favorites. In women’s tennis, the top six in the world are all extremely talented players. Yet none of them come close to matching Williams’ performance on Centre Court. The American player has won Wimbledon five times. In the men’s bracket, Novak Djokovic will probably be Federer’s biggest competition. He won bronze in 2008, and with absence of Rafael Nadal, this should help him make his way to the finals for either a silver or a gold. Djokovic is especially hungry for a gold medal, and he wants to reclaim his former Number One world ranking.
And then there’s Andy Murray. One really has to feel sympathy for Andy Murray. Britain hasn’t had an Olympic gold medalist in tennis (men’s or women’s) since 1908. Nor has it had a Wimbledon champion since Fred Perry in 1936. The drought has been frustrating for fans, but perhaps not as much for them as the possible hopefuls along the way. Tim Henman felt the weight of his country when in 1998, 1999, 2001, and 2002 he reached the Wimbledon semi-finals only to lose. Another contemporary of Henman, Greg Rusedski, made the US Open finals in 1997 but lost. Then came along Andy Murray, a Scottish player who has shown shades of brilliance. Murray inherited from Henman the heavy burden of being Britain’s lone hopeful to win Wimbledon and any major tournament, Olympics included. The pressure is severe; and this year, he came so close, losing in the final to Federer, a match which went four sets and ended with Murray crying. There is no question that he must be feeling like he’s carrying the hope of all Great Britain on his shoulders as he enters these Olympics. It’s because of this that I’m pulling for Murray. I’d love to see the headlines read “Hurray for Murray!”
Faster, Higher, Stronger.
Published with permission from The Olympic Fanatic.