Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Andre Agassi was thrilled by his Olympic triumph in 1996.
Andre Agassi was thrilled by his Olympic triumph in 1996.

The importance of an Olympic gold in tennis

Both Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf have talked at their joy at winning an Olympic gold medal.

In the summer of 1896, just after completing his graduation studies, the Irishman John Pius Boland had gone to Greece for a break.

Athens was preparing to host the first modern Olympic Games during those days and Boland's Greek friend, Thrasyvoulos Manos, a member of the organising committee, entered his name in the tennis competition.

The spur-of-the-moment decision meant Boland had to play with leather-soled shoes and "a tennis bat of sorts, secured at the Panhellenic Bazaar". Yet, he went on to win both the singles and doubles competition.

Tennis at the Olympics, as indeed the Games, has come a long way since those days and getting on your country's tennis team is a lot tougher. Winning the gold medal, it seems, is even harder.

"To win a gold medal is what it's all about," Andre Agassi said after winning the gold at 1996 Atlanta, eight years after tennis was reintroduced as an Olympic sports in 1988. "I'd keep this over all of them [his other titles]."

Talking to CNN earlier this week, the American said: "The medal round my neck, the national anthem, tears in my eyes ... it's an out of body experience, it's surreal.

"You know when I was a boy tennis was not in the Olympics, but it was one of many things my father had predicted in my life, that tennis should be in the Olympics, would be in the Olympics and you are going to win a gold medal, so being on that podium was a boyhood dream in many respects."

Agassi's wife, Steffi Graf, who won all the four grand slams in 1988 and also took the gold at the Seoul Games, says the Olympic gold is more precious to her than her 22 majors.

"To me this was bigger than a grand slam, it was more special," the German said. "Standing on the podium and listening to your national anthem and getting the medal around your neck, seeing the other athletes there that supported."

Pete Sampras, Venus and Serena Williams, Tim Henman and many others have expressed similar opinions. The Games come every four years and are not always as predictable as the slams. Sampras, Stefan Edberg and Roger Federer do not have an Olympic gold on their CV. Marc Rosset and Nicolas Massu do.

arizvi@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Manager Matt Williams benching star Bryce Harper, above, may have sent the wrong message to the rest of the Washington Nationals. Mike Ehrmann / AFP

Benching Harper sends Williams’s right message the wrong way

Matt Williams, the Washington Nationals manager, made the biggest move of his 18-game tenure on Saturday, benching rising star Bryce Harper for his “lack of hustle”.

 Players such as George Springer are a sign that things are starting to swing in the Houston Astros' favour. But more help is needed. Scott Halleran / AFP

Houston Astros are still earth-bound but help is on the way

As harbingers of a new era go, the Houston Astros could have done worse than misspelling their new phenom’s name on his major-league debut.

 Luis Suarez became the first Liverpool player to score 30 Premier League goals in a season since Ian Rush in 1987. Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

Sterling and Suarez inpire Liverpool to win over Norwich City

The win takes the Premier League table-toppers to 80 points from 35 games.

 Arsenal's Lukas Podolski celebrates his second goal during the Premier League match against Hull City at The KC Stadium in Hull, England, on April 20, 2014. Lynne Cameron / AP Photo

Arsenal maintain push for top-four finish with victory at Hull

Hull could end up in Europe regardless of the FA Cup final result if Arsenal finish in the Uefa Champions League places

 Chelsea’s manager Jose Mourinho, second from right, holds back assistant coach Rui Faria, centre, after he was sent off by referee Mike Dean, left, during their Premier League match against Sunderland at Stamford Bridge in London. Philip Brown / Reuters

Angry Jose Mourinho mocks referees for ‘fantastic performance’ after Chelsea defeat

Manager targets Mike Dean, who awarded the 82nd-minute penalty from which Fabio Borini scored the winning goal for Sunderland.

 Michelle Wie’s other two LPGA titles also came in North America, at the 2009 Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico and at Canadian Women’s Open in August of 2010. Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Michelle Wie’s win snaps LPGA title drought

The American, who erased a four-shot deficit to win with a 14-under par total of 274, wins her third career LPGA crown.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National