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20 Greatest Tennis Moments in Olympic History

JA AllenSenior Writer IJanuary 10, 2017

20 Greatest Tennis Moments in Olympic History

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    Tennis emerged as part of the modern Olympics in 1896. It was one of the original nine events included in the first Summer Games held in Athens.

    In the first year of competition, John Pius Boland of England won the singles title. He teamed with German Friedrich Traun to win the men's doubles in the only two tennis competitions held that year.

    Britain's three-time Wimbledon champion Charlotte Cooper won the singles title in St. Louis in 1904. She became the first female Olympic champion in tennis as well; the first woman in any sport to win an Olympic gold medal.

    The last Olympic tennis played in London prior to 2012 was in 1908 at the All-England Club and at Queen's Club.

    The 1948 Games were held in London, but tennis was not a part of the program.

    Tennis was dropped from the Olympics for 64 years, beginning with the 1924 Antwerp games until 1968 in Mexico City when it returned briefly as a "demonstration" sport. 1968 also marked the beginning of the Open Era of tennis, allowing professionals and amateurs to compete against one another.

    Tennis had been eliminated from the Olympics because the International Tennis Federation and the International Olympic Committee were in dispute over the IOC's unyielding definition of "amateur." At the time, only amateur athletes were allowed into Olympic competition.

    Now, of course, professional athletes compete on the world stage with amateurs in many disciplines like men's and women's basketball, although highlighting the efforts of amateur athletes around the globe remains preferable.

    Tennis became part of the regular Olympic program again starting in 1988 in Seoul. The year 2012 marks the seventh year of Olympic competition with this year's games in London.

    As we look back on the past six Summer Olympic seasons in tennis competition, these have been the most memorable tennis moments...

1. Li Ting and Sun Tiantian Win Unexpected Gold in 2004

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    Tennis emerged as part of the modern Olympics in 1896. It was one of the original nine events included in the first Summer Games held in Athens.

    In the first year of competition, John Pius Boland of England won the singles title. He teamed with German Friedrich Traun to win the men's doubles in the only two tennis competitions held that year.

    Britain's three-time Wimbledon champion Charlotte Cooper won the singles title in St. Louis in 1904. She became the first female Olympic champion in tennis as well; the first woman in any sport to win an Olympic gold medal.

    The last Olympic tennis played in London prior to 2012 was in 1908 at the All-England Club and at Queen's Club.

    The 1948 Games were held in London, but tennis was not a part of the program.

    Tennis was dropped from the Olympics for 64 years, beginning with the 1924 Antwerp games until 1968 in Mexico City when it returned briefly as a "demonstration" sport. 1968 also marked the beginning of the Open Era of tennis, allowing professionals and amateurs to compete against one another.

    Tennis had been eliminated from the Olympics because the International Tennis Federation and the International Olympic Committee were in dispute over the IOC's unyielding definition of "amateur." At the time, only amateur athletes were allowed into Olympic competition.

    Now, of course, professional athletes compete on the world stage with amateurs in many disciplines like men's and women's basketball, although highlighting the efforts of amateur athletes around the globe remains preferable.

    Tennis became part of the regular Olympic program again starting in 1988 in Seoul. The year 2012 marks the seventh year of Olympic competition with this year's games in London.

    As we look back on the past six Summer Olympic seasons in tennis competition, these have been the most memorable tennis moments...

2. Leander Paes of India Savors Bronze in 1996

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    Long celebrated as one of India's best tennis players, Leander Paes has enjoyed a long and very successful career in doubles—but he also had some great moments in men's singles.

    At the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Paes beat Fernando Meligeni to win the bronze medal, becoming the first Indian to win an individual medal at the Olympics since KD Jadhav won bronze at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics held more than four decades earlier.

    In the first round, Paes defeated Richey Reneberg (United States), leading 6-7, 7-6, 1-0 before the American was forced to retire. Following in the second round, Paes beat Nicolas Pereira (Venezuela) 6-2, 6-3, followed by a victory over Thomas Enqvist (Sweden), 7-5, 7-6, to advance to the quarterfinals.

    In the quarterfinals, Paes defeated Renzo Furlan (Italy) 6-1, 7-5, moving on to the Olympic semifinal round, where Paes met and lost to Andre Agassi (United States) 6-7, 3-6.

    In the consolation bronze medal match, Paes triumphed over Fernando Meligeni (Brazil) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

    Paes said that the match stood out as one of his greatest performances on court, mainly because his wrist was severely injured.

    For his efforts, Paes was awarded the highest sporting honour by the government of India, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 1996.

3. Swiss Marc Rosset Survives, Winning Gold in Barcelona in 1992

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    Neither Roger Federer nor Stanislas Wawrinka won the first Swiss gold medal in tennis at the Summer Games.

    In 1992 countryman Marc Rosset was awarded a gold medal playing on the clay in Barcelona.

    That win in the men's singles competition remained the very best performance in Rosset's career.

    To reach the finals, the Swiss had to defeat some very high-profile players like Jim Courier of the United States, Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia, Wayne Ferreria of South Africa and Emilio Sanchez of Spain.

    Rosset's emergence in the gold medal round came as a huge surprise to the tennis world.

    In the final the Swiss dispatched Spaniard Jordi Arrese in five tough sets to become a gold medal winner for Switzerland—a country much more accustomed to seeing their athletes win gold in winter sports.

    During his career, Rosset did win a grand slam title in doubles—the French Open in 1992 teamed with countryman Jakob Hlasek. His career-high ranking in doubles was No. 8, while in singles Rosset rose to the No. 9 spot.

    Standing almost 6'7", the Swiss was noted for his powerful serve which often allowed him many free points in a match.

    The gold medal he won in Barcelona, however, remained the highlight of his professional career.

4. Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde Take Home Gold in 1996, Silver in 2000

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    Inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 2010, Australians Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde will be remembered as world class doubles players, affectionately known by their nickname, the "Woodies."

    The pair combined for 11 major titles and 61 world tour championships from 1991 to 2000. They held the record for most doubles titles, until it was recently matched by Americans Bob and Mike Bryan.

    The "Woodies" were accorded the distinction of being named the ATP Doubles Team of the Year six times throughout their career playing together.

    They won one French Open title in doubles, two Australian and two U.S. Open titles, as well as a record six doubles titles at Wimbledon.

    At the Summer Olympics in Atlanta in 1996, top-seeded Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge survived a record-setting semifinal marathon that included 34 games in the third set alone. They won the gold medal in men’s doubles, defeating England’s Tim Henman and Neil Broad, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

    Four years later, in 2000, playing in front of their home crowd in Sydney, the top-seeded pair fell in the gold medal match, losing to Sebastien Lareau and Daniel Nestor of Canada, 7-5, 3-6, 4-6, 6-7.

    It was their final appearance on the Olympic stage, but the "Woodies" brought a great deal of excitement to tennis doubles whether winning gold or silver.

5. Justine Henin Wins Gold in Athens in 2004

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    Belgian’s Justine Henin-Hardenne recorded a straight set win over Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo to win Olympic gold in women's tennis in Athens in 2004.

    The Belgian, who was returning to form after a severe bout with a viral infection, won 6-3, 6-3. The illness had kept her off the circuit for three months.

    Despite surviving a tiring semifinal contest against Anastasia Myskina on Friday, Henin-Hardenne looked sharp on court.

    Playing her usual aggressive style, Henin-Hardenne gained early breaks in both sets. Once she had broken Mauresmo, she appeared comfortable punishing her opponent with some powerful ground strokes.

    The Belgian served extremely well, never allowing her opponent to get into the match. She punctuated her victory with a powerful smash.

    Having just beaten Henin-Hardenne in Florida prior to the French Open, Mauresmo failed to win a break point in the match.

    The gold was Belgium's first at the Olympics, representing only their second tennis medal after a doubles bronze for Dominique van Roost and Els Callens in Sydney.

    The Olympics in 2004 marked Justine Henin's only appearance at the Summer Games, and she left with a gold medal—those are pretty good statistics.

6. Lindsay Davenport Scores Gold in Atlanta in 1996

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    Lindsay Davenport grew up realizing just how important the Olympics were to all athletes. She was excited to be part of the field as the Summer Games began in Atlanta in 1996.

    Davenport, then ranked No. 10 in the world, struggled mightily in the first set. She arrived at love-40 in the sixth game, then failed to break Arantxa Sanchez Vicario. In frustration, she threw her racket down on the court.

    She did manage to hold her own serve throughout the set, however, constantly under siege from her wily opponent. Finally Davenport won the tiebreaker on a net cord, for which she was grateful, calling it the luckiest point she'd ever gotten on such a big point.

    In the second set, Davenport was much stronger, asserting her power game early after surviving a break of her own serve. The American served for the match at 5-2 and listened as the crowd chanted "U-S-A."

    As Sanchez Vicario sent her last ball into the net, Davenport won, holding her racket above her heading, smiling. She rushed to the sideline to celebrate with her entire family, including her father, who was a member of the fifth-place U.S. men’s volleyball team in the 1968 Olympics.

    Davenport characterized her gold medal round as the most important match of her career at the time.

    Afterwards, the American stood transfixed as they played the national anthem. Davenport, who had never made it past the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam, won Olympic gold.

    It was just the first step in a brilliant career ahead.

7. Rafael Nadal Bites Gold in 2008 in Beijing

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    In 2008 Rafael Nadal won his first Grand Slam not played on clay. He defeated world No. 1 Roger Federer at Wimbledon as the Swiss was attempting to win his sixth consecutive championship at the All England Club.

    After Wimbledon, Nadal continued to win, securing his second title at the Rogers Cup in Canada. Then he reached the semifinals in Cincinnati, while Federer went out early in both of those Masters events.

    Nadal extended his winning streak to 32 matches, a career best.

    As a result, Nadal supplanted Federer as world No. 1 on August 18, 2008, officially ending Federer's record four-and-a-half year reign at the top.

    Federer went out in the quarterfinals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Nadal, however, defeated Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the semifinals, which sent the Spaniard into the final.

    In the final, the new world No. 1 met and defeated Fernando Gonzalez of Chile to win his first Olympic gold medal.

    Nadal was the first male player ranked in the top five to win a gold medal.

    2008 was one of the Spaniard’s best years in achieving so many of his long-term goals, including winning a vaunted Olympic gold medal.

8. Russians Dominate as Elena Dementieva Captures a Gold Medal in 2008

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    Elena Dementieva’s gold medal win in 2008 was a special one in Olympic history.

    Dementieva took the top spot on the podium as part of a Russian sweep of the gold, silver and bronze medals in Beijing.

    Their accomplishment was the second in the history of the Olympic games, with the winners all from the same country. The first occurred in 1908 when the winners were all from Great Britain.

    In her quarterfinal match against Serena Williams, Dementieva found herself down a set and a break before coming back to win match, sending the Russian on to the semifinals.

    There Dementieva outplayed countrywoman Vera Zvonareva, advancing to the finals.

    Defeating Dinara Safina in the gold medal match, Dementieva won gold while Safina took silver and Vera Zvonareva took home the bronze medal.

    It should also be noted that in the 2000 Summer Olympics, Dementieva won a silver medal, falling to eventual gold medal winner Venus Williams in the final.

    But winning the gold in 2008 was the supreme highlight in Dementieva's career.

9. Jennifer Capriati Triumphs, Winning Gold in Barcelona in 1992

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    Jennifer Capriati was the youngest woman ever to win a gold medal. She was just 16 years and 132 days old at the time.

    She defeated Steffi Graf of Germany in the gold medal match. 

    Capriati marched through the draw, defeating Elna Reinach of South Africa, a wild-card entry, 6-1, 6-0 in the first round.

    In the second round she beat Patricia Tarabini of Argentina 6-4, 6-1, which sent the young American into the third round where she dispatched Yayuk Basuki of Indonesia, 6-3, 6-4.

    In the quarterfinals Capriati sent home the No. 7-seeded Anke Huber of Germany with a victory of 6-3, 7-6. The teenager faced veteran Arantxa Sanchez Vicario of Spain in the semifinals, winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

    After defeating the No. 2 seed, Capriati next faced world No. 1 and No. 1 seed Steffi Graf in the gold medal match.

    The 16-year-old astonished the tennis world, as she won the match 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to take home a gold medal.

    It was an amazing result for the young American, who never repeated her feat or enjoyed Olympic glory again.

10. Andre Agassi Captures a Gold Medal in Atlanta in 1996

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    Andre Agassi won a gold medal in Atlanta in 1996, making him the first American male to win gold in tennis since Vincent Richards in 1924.

    Between the two gold medalists, no other U.S. male climbed quite so high on the Olympic podium. Agassi considered winning the gold medal his greatest accomplishment in sports.

    Agassi's father had also competed in the Olympics for Iran in 1952 when the games were held in Helsinki. Like Lindsay Davenport, whose father had also participated in the Summer Games, Agassi understood how important the Olympics are to all athletes.

    To reach the finals, Agassi had to overcome Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden, Karol Kucera of Slovakia and Andrea Gaudenzi of Italy.

    In the quarterfinals, Agassi overcame Wayne Ferreira of South Africa 7-5, 4-6, 7-5. In the semifinals, the American defeated Indian Leander Paes 7-6, 6-3 before reaching the finals.

    In the gold medal match, Agassi won over Sergi Bruguera of Spain, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1.

    In 1996 winning the gold medal was the high point, as Agassi failed to reach the finals of any Grand Slam.

    Even after winning on all courts around the world, Agassi still considers his gold medal moment the best in his professional career.

11. The "Cat" Pounces: Miloslav Mecir of Czechoslovakia Takes Gold in 1988

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    The setting was Seoul in 1988. Miloslav Mecir of Czechoslovakia defeated Tim Mayotte of the United States to win the first gold medal in men's tennis since 1924. The year 1988 marked the return of tennis to the regular Olympic program.

    Known as the "Big Cat," Mecir was so named because of his deft and agile movement on court. He was a finesse player whose ability to stay in a point was often highly frustrating to his opponents.

    Mecir's favorite activity, it seemed, was knocking off the top-ranked Swedes playing tennis on the world stage. This was the reason for his other nickname, the "Swede Killer."

    Although Mecir was immensely talented, he never won a Grand Slam tournament. The gold medal win at the Olympics in Seoul was something Mecir prized highly.

    In 1988 Mecir also won the bronze medal in men's doubles with countryman Milan Srejber.

    In the men's singles semifinals, Mecir defeated the reigning Wimbledon champion, Swede Stefan Edberg. The match went a full five sets before Mecir emerged as the winner, 3-6, 6-0, 1-6, 6-4, 6-2.

    In the final, the Czech defeated Mayotte in four sets, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.

    The gold medal was awarded as he stood on the podium with his country's national anthem being played over the loud speakers.

12. Zina Garrison Seizes Both Gold and Bronze in Seoul in 1988

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    Zina Garrison teamed with countrywoman Pam Shriver to win the gold medal for the United States in women's doubles during the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.

    In order to reach the finals, Garrison and Shriver defeated the French team of Isabelle Demongeot and Nathalie Tauziat, followed by the Australian team of Elizabeth Smylie and Wendy Turnbull.

    In the finals, they were victorious over the team of Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova of Czechoslovakia, earning the top spot on the podium.

    Also during the 1988 Olympics, Garrison captured the bronze medal in women's singles along with Manuela Maleeva of Bulgaria.

    Garrison was defeated by German Steffi Graf during the semifinals in women's singles competition but was awarded the bronze medal with Maleeva, who also lost her semifinal contest to Gabriella Sabatini. There was no consolation match in 1988.

    The American managed to capture two medals during the 1988 Seoul Olympics, which made it a great Olympic moment for Garrison and Team USA.

13. Serena Williams Secures Second of Two Gold Medals in 2008

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    Besides all her other major accomplishments, Serena Williams teamed with sister Venus Williams to win her second gold medal in 2008 at the Summer Olympics in Beijing.

    This followed Serena's dismissal by Elena Dementieva in the quarterfinal round of singles after being up a break in the final set.

    As the No. 2 seeds, Venus and Serena fought their way through the draw since both were playing in the singles competition as well—at least in the beginning.

    To reach the gold medal round, the sisters defeated the team from the Czech Republic, Iveta Benesova and Nicole Vaidisova, following the team of Ayumi Morita and Ai Sugiyama of Japan.

    Then they upended the Russian pair of Elena Vesnina and Vera Zvonareva.

    In the semifinals, Serena and Venus dispatched Ukrainians Alona Bondarenko and Kateryna Bondarenko, sending the Williams sisters into the Olympic gold medal match.

    Serena and Venus defeated the Spanish team of Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual 6-2, 6-0, marking Serena's second gold medal in doubles having won her first with sister Venus at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

    Will there be another in 2012?

14. Swiss Duo of Federer and Wawrinka Fight for Gold in Men's Doubles

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    Roger Federer participated in the Summer Olympics in the years 2000, 2004 and in 2008, each time trying his utmost to win a gold medal.

    In Sydney, the Swiss lost in the semifinals to Tommy Haas. Then in Athens, Federer lost to Tomas Berdych in the second round.

    In 2008 after being upset by James Blake in the quarterfinal round of the men's singles competition, Federer and teammate Stanislas Wawrinka concentrated all their efforts into winning gold in doubles.

    Federer and Wawrinka made their way through the Italians and the Russians, plus the vaunted Indian duo of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes in the quarterfinals.

    The Swiss met the American team of Bob and Mike Bryan in the semifinals, winning 7-6, 6-4.

    In the finals they defeated the Swedes Simon Aspelin and Thomas Johansson 6-3, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 to win the gold medal. 

    It was salvation for Federer’s season, restoring his confidence enough to allow him to win the U.S. Open later that summer.

    The joy of Federer's and Wawrinka's celebration at the conclusion of their match was a highlight of the 2008 Olympics.

15. Gigi Fernandez and Mary Joe Fernandez Win Successive Golds in 1992 and 1996

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    Gigi Fernandez and Mary Joe Fernandez (USA) are the only players to successfully defend an Olympic tennis title, winning the women's doubles gold medal in 1992 and 1996.

    In 1992 as the No. 2 seeds, the USA duo of Gigi and Mary Joe Fernandez fought their way to the final match where they defeated the Spanish team of Conchita Martinez and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 7-5, 2-6, 6-2 to win the gold medal.

    Mary Joe Fernandez also won the bronze medal in 1992 in singles.

    In 1996, the USA team entered the field as the No. 1 seed. Once again, Mary Joe and Gigi Fernandez worked their way to the final where they defeated the team of Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova from Czech Republic, 7-6, 6-4.

    They took home their second consecutive gold medal in women's doubles.

16. Nicolas Massu of Chile Wins a Double Gold in 2004

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    In 2004, the No. 10 seed Nicolas Massu of Chile won the singles title and then teamed with countryman Fernando Gonzalez to win the doubles—the first competitor to take gold medals in both events since American Vincent Richards in 1924.

    The singles competition at the Olympics in 2004 was marked with numerous upsets in the early rounds. Tim Henman, the No. 4 seed, was dismissed in the first round, as was Juan Carlos Ferrero, the No. 5 seed.

    The biggest upset came when No. 1 seed Roger Federer went out in the second round.

    Mardy Fish, who was not seeded, survived to make the finals. Massu met the American to compete for the gold medal.

    The final match employed the best-of-five format used in Grand Slam events. All other rounds were best of three.

    The 2004 Olympic final went the distance, with Massu emerging with a gold medal in a five-set victory, 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

    In doubles, Massu teamed with Fernando Gonzalez. The unseeded Chileans upset the No. 1 seeds Bob and Mike Bryan to advance to the semifinals.

    There the pair defeated the Croatian team of Mario Ancic and Ivan Ljubicic to send themselves into the gold medal match.

    In the finals, Massu and Gonzalez defeated the German team of Nicolas Kiefer and Rainer Schuttler 6-2, 4-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 in a monumental final.

    When the dust settled in 2004, Nicolas Massu had two gold medals as he headed back home.

17. Steffi Graf Savors Gold in 1988, Paving the Way for a Golden Slam

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    Steffi Graf won the women's singles competition at Los Angeles in 1984, which was a demonstration event for 21-and-under players. Graf was 15 years and 58 days old at the time.

    But in 1988, as a full-fledged professional, Graf put together a perfect year, winning Grand Slam tournaments at all venues—Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

    When she won the gold medal at the Olympics at Seoul, it gave Graf a "Golden Calendar Year Slam." She is the only player in the history of tennis to have accomplished this rarity.

    In 1988, Graf lost three matches in total. It has to be regarded as one of the most dominating seasons in the history of the great game.

    In the quarterfinals of her Olympic campaign, Graf finally lost a set to Larisa Savchenko of Russia, winning 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. In the semifinals, she steamrolled over American Zina Garrison, 6-2, 6-0.

    In the gold medal match, Graf found herself facing Gabriella Sabatini of Argentina. Sabatini had defeated Graf twice in 1988, but she was no match for the German in the final, as Graf won 6-3, 6-3.

    Additionally, Graf teamed with countrywoman Claudia Kohde-Kilsch to win a bronze medal in women's doubles in 1988.

    1988 was Graf's greatest season on tour.

18. Conchita Martinez Medals in 3 Different Olympics, the Last in 2004

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    Conchita Martinez of Spain is the only tennis player to win medals at three different Olympic Games—silver in 1992, bronze in 1996 and silver in 2004—all in the women's doubles event.

    In 1992 Martinez teamed with Arantxa Sanchez Vicario to win the silver medal in Barcelona in women's doubles. They fell one match short of winning gold, falling to the team from the United States, Gigi Fernandez and Mary Joe Fernandez, 5-7, 6-2, 2-6.

    At the following Olympics held in 1996 at Atlanta, Martinez again teamed with Sanchez Vicario to win a bronze medal in women's doubles. In the semifinals, the Spanish team lost to the team of Jana Novotna and Helen Sukova of the Czech Republic, but they came back to win the bronze, defeating Manon Bollegraf and Brenda Schultz-McCarthy of the Netherlands.

    Then, in 2004, Martinez teamed with countrywoman Virginia Ruano Pascual to take home another silver medal in women's doubles at the Olympics in Athens. They lost in the gold medal match to the Chinese team of Li Ting and Sun Tiantian, 6-3, 6-3.

    Martinez enjoyed a long and successful career in singles and doubles, but her Olympic medals represent some of her happiest moments on court, as is true of most athletes who participate in the Summer Games.

19. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario Captures Her 4th Olympic Medal in 1996

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    Arantxa Sanchez Vicario of Spain has won the most tennis Olympic medals since 1988 with four—two silver medals and two bronze medals in 1992 and 1996.

    In 1992, the Summer Olympics moved to Barcelona and clay courts. Sanchez Vicario came into the women's singles competition as the No. 2 seed. She advanced through the draw to the semifinal round where she was defeated by the No. 3 seed Jennifer Capriati of the United States, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

    Because there was no consolation match played in 1992, both Sanchez Vicario and Mary Joe Fernandez were awarded bronze medals.

    In doubles play at the Olympics in 1992, Sanchez Vicario teamed with Conchita Martinez to win silver in Barcelona. The Spanish team advanced to the final round where they lost in a tight match with Mary Joe Fernandez and Gigi Fernandez, 5-7, 6-2, 2-6.

    In 1996, the Summer Olympics relocated to Atlanta, Georgia in the USA. As play in women's singles got underway, Sanchez Vicario was awarded the No. 3 seed.

    Advancing to the finals, Sanchez Vicario defeated Kimiko Date of Japan in the quarterfinals and Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic in the semifinals.

    This took Sanchez Vicario to the finals, where she met American Lindsay Davenport, the No. 9 seed. The lady from Spain faltered in finals, losing 6-7, 2-6. Sanchez Vicario took home a silver medal in women's singles in 1996.

    In doubles, Sanchez Vicario teamed once again with Martinez as the No. 4 seed. After advancing over teams from Madagascar, Croatia and Thailand, the Spanish team reached the semifinals where they lost to the Czech team of Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova.

    In the bronze medal consolation match, Martinez and Sanchez Vicario defeated Manon Bollegraf and Brenda Schultz-McCarthy of the Netherlands to win the bronze medal for themselves and Spain.

    Sanchez Vicario's dedication to the sport of tennis and her unflagging energy and enthusiasm on court caused her to leave an indelible mark on the game with four Olympic medals to show for her efforts.

20. Venus Williams Wins Record-Breaking 3rd Gold Medal in 2008

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    After winning her Olympic gold medal in singles in 2000, Venus Williams jogged around the tennis court sporting an American flag while holding her racket high. It was a happy celebration for the talented Williams.

    For the whole summer, Venus had dominated. Now with 32 victories in a row, Williams added a gold medal, taking out Russian Elena Dementieva in the process. Williams on that day added gold to her summer tally.

    Things just seemed to go right for Williams, although in the fifth game of the second set, Dementieva felt better when the Russian whacked a backhand into the tape and watched it flop to Williams' side of the net.

    Remarkably, however, Williams got to the ball and scooped it up and over to the Russian's side of the court. Rushed, Dementieva sent it back into the net.

    Besides winning the gold in singles in 2000, Venus teamed with sister Serena Williams to win the gold in women's doubles, allowing the oldest Williams sister to return home packing two gold medals.

    In 1924, Helen Wills Moody of the United States won both.

    In 2008, the sisters won their second gold medal in women's doubles, giving Serena two gold medals but Venus three. With three, Venus has won more gold medals than any other female tennis player.

    Another gold in 2012 will add to Venus Williams' legacy at the Summer Games.

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