US Olympic Women's Tennis Team 2012: Updated News, Analysis for Americas Squad
The U.S. will be sending a strong contingent of women's tennis players to the London Olympic Games.
The team will be led by Serena Williams, who will be looking to win her first gold medal in women's singles.
Venus Williams, Christina McHale and Varvara Lepchenko will also be representing the U.S. in women's singles, and all will be looking to succeed while the world watches.
The world's top-ranked women's doubles team, Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond, will be among the favorites to claim gold in that event. Their biggest threat may come from the Williams sisters, who may have one more strong doubles run left in them.
This is also the first time that mixed doubles is part of the Olympic schedule, and it is likely that Serena Williams will play with Bob Bryan in that event.
Quick Facts: Serena Williams
History: Serena Williams has won 27 Grand Slams in her career, with 13 coming in singles, 12 in women's doubles and two in mixed doubles.
Olympic Experience: She also has two Olympic gold medals in women's doubles while playing alongside her sister Venus Williams.
World Ranking: 6th
Serena is on the short list of the greatest female tennis players of all-time, and will be looking to complete a golden slam, meaning she would own an Olympic gold along with each major title.
There is no denying the fact that if she is at the top of her game, then she is the favorite to win the entire event. Serena can play at a level that no active player can match, but whether she reaches that level at the London Games remains to be seen.
Playing Style and Road to London: Serena Williams
Serena Williams plays an aggressive style of tennis, and when things are going her way she overpowers her opponents from the baseline.
Over the course of her illustrious career, Serena has proven that she does not shy away from big moments and matchups.
Her desire to compete in the London Games was on full display as she played the Fed Cup twice this year. Competing in the Fed Cup isn't typically high on Serena's to-do list, but with the new rules put in place regarding qualification for the Olympics, she had no choice but to play the event.
Williams will have plenty of time to adjust her game to the quicker grass courts, as she will be competing at Wimbledon just three weeks prior to the Games.
Anything short of Olympic gold would be a disappointment for Serena, if she has it her way she will leave London with three gold medals, one for each event she is expected to compete in.
Quick Facts: Venus Williams
History: Venus Williams has won seven major titles, with five of those coming on the grass courts at Wimbledon. She also won 12 Grand Slam doubles titles playing with her sister Serena, and won two mixed doubles majors.
Olympic Experience: Venus won the gold medal in singles way back at the 2000 Sydney Games when she was just 20 years old. She has also won two gold medals in the women's doubles event alongside Serena Williams.
Current Ranking: 55
The London Olympics will mark the fourth time Venus has competed in the Games, and will be looking to use her past glory as motivation.
She has won more gold medals than any other woman in history, and is no stranger to representing her country on the biggest stage.
Playing Style and Road to London: Venus Williams
Venus Williams' game has always been best suited for the quick, low bouncing grass courts.
She has long had one of the best serves in the women's game, and on grass it can be very difficult to break her.
At 32, questions have to be raised about whether or not her body will hold up over the course of an entire tournament. Luckily for her, matches on grass tend to be easier on the body due to the shorter rallies.
At one point, it appeared as if Venus would not be ranked high enough to qualify for the London Games. Fortunately, she was able to get over a variety of ailments to get her ranking high enough to allow her to compete.
Venus has won Wimbledon five times, and will be playing on the same courts in the Olympics. It would be nothing short of spectacular to see one more magical run on grass.
Quick Facts: Christina McHale
History: Christina McHale is just 20 years old, but is already ranked 30th in the world. She has already beaten the likes of Caroline Wozniacki, Marion Bartoli and Petra Kvitova, all of whom are currently in the Top-10.
Olympic Experience: None
Current Ranking: 30
McHale has a chance this summer to become a household name, a good performance would solidify her status as the heir to American women's tennis. The Williams sisters cannot play forever, and when they do decide to retire new women will have to step up to fill the void.
At the moment, it appears that McHale and Sloane Stephens will be the next great American players. But of the two previously mentioned, only McHale will be competing in London.
Playing Style and Road to London: Christina McHale
McHale is a good mover and has a solid forehand. When she is at her best, she is dictating points and running around backhands to utilize her forehand.
Her game should translate well to grass, and she appears to have the right mindset to be a threat in the women's game for years to come.
She won both of her Fed Cup matches against Belarus earlier this year to help the team win the tie. Thus far in McHale's career, it has been clear that playing on the Fed Cup team is important to her.
If she is able to break into the Top-10 then she will probably play less Fed Cup, but as of now it is refreshing to see how much she cares about representing her country.
Quick Facts: Varvara Lepchenko
History: Varvara Lepchenko was born in the Soviet Union and represented the Uzbekistan up until 2007. In 2007, she began playing for the U.S. and made a breakthrough at this year's French Open where she made a run to the fourth round.
Olympic Experience: None
Current Ranking: 51
Lepchenko's run at this year's French Open vaulted her ranking high enough to allow her to qualify as the U.S.'s fourth singles player. Not much is going to be expected of her on grass though.
To date, she has won only one match at Wimbledon, and isn't a threat on grass.
Playing Style and Road to London: Varvara Lepchenko
Varvara Lepchenko was the last American woman standing in Paris, and that performance earned her a spot in the Olympic Games. That alone makes her appearance in the fourth round look even better.
Lepchenko is obviously very excited about her opportunity, as she said the following:
"I'm playing in the Olympics and not just for any country, it's the USA . . . As a kid you grow up watching the Opening Ceremony and things like that. To be there experiencing that, it's got to be an amazing feeling."
She is by far the most surprising member of the women's tennis team, and has traveled a long road to get there. Lepchenko has nothing to lose at the London Games, and should be able to swing freely and hope for the best.