All the star players but one are taking part in the Olympic tennis tournament in London. The event will be played on the famed Wimbledon grass tennis courts, but the players will not have to wear the traditional white.
There will be lots of color at the Olympic tennis tournament. Not only will players get to wear the colors of their country, but the brightly colored banners and logos seen throughout the Olympic Park and other venues for these Games are also in and around the All England Club.
And since the Wimbledon championships concluded just last month after two weeks of competition, the courts were newly seeded to return them to good playing shape.
Newly-crowned Wimbledon champions Roger Federer of Switzerland and Serena Williams of the United States will be aiming for their first Olympic gold medals in singles. Both won Olympic doubles golds in 2008, and Serena also was doubles champion with sister Venus in 2004.
Federer says this is a very special event.
“Obviously the combination for us, the tennis players, having the chance to play the Olympics at Wimbledon is incredible. I’ve said it for many, many years now, since London was named host, and I’ll just try to enjoy it,” Federer said.
Federer described not having to wear white at Wimbledon as a bit “awkward,” and added, “I feel a bit funny, you know, playing with a red shirt, maybe, out at Wimbledon where normally it should be all white. But I don’t dislike it. I think it’s a nice opportunity to, you know, represent your country with colors and get into that whole spirit.”
Federer said he was sorry that defending Olympic champion Rafael Nadal of Spain withdrew.
“He must have his reasons. I don’t know if it was his knee or just his preparation that wasn’t good enough. But obviously it’s exciting for the rest of the field regardless if Rafa is here or not,” Federer.
At a pre-Olympic news conference, Serena Williams was asked how important this Olympics was, because if she wins gold, she would be the only tennis player ever to have won all four Grand Slam tournaments, plus Olympic doubles and singles titles.
“I actually didn’t even know that, so no pressure (laughs). But I really just feel like for me this is a great opportunity for me to be here and to represent Team USA, and whether that means a gold medal or, you know, just participation, for me that’s really important to be here and do the best that I can do,” Serena Williams.
Serena is a two-time Olympic doubles gold champion with older sister Venus, and Venus won the Olympic singles gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Games. Venus says it’s great winning Grand Slams, but the Olympics are also quite special.
“When you’re at tournaments and they announce your name, and they have Olympian behind it and gold medalist behind it as well, it’s just such a thrill every time that you hear that, so it’s not something you ever get over,” Venus said.
Since the Olympic seedings are based on the most recent world rankings, it’s the Williams’ teammates, Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond, who are seeded first in women’s doubles. And Americans Bob and Mike Bryan, the 2008 bronze medal winners, will be the number one men’s doubles seed for the third straight Olympics.