Updated: Mon, 19 Mar 2012 21:13:56 GMT | By pa.press.net

TENNIS

This year the world's top tennis players return to the famous courts of Wimbledon for Olympic action, just a few weeks after the prestigious grand slam grass tournament.


A tennis player prepares to serve. (© Press Association)

A tennis player prepares to serve.

Tennis

This year the world's top tennis players return to the famous courts of Wimbledon for Olympic action, just a few weeks after the prestigious grand slam grass tournament.

The 2012 Games sees tennis return to the landmark venue for the first time since 1908, with the world's biggest stars targeting a gold medal to add to their long list of titles.

Despite the large sums of money that surround tennis these days, the lure of playing for medals and no prize money at the Olympics still manages to pull in the great names of the sport every four years - and past champions include the likes of Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Venus Williams and the men's singles winner from Beijing 2008, Rafael Nadal.

Tennis was originally one of the nine Olympic sports played at Athens 1896 and was part of the Games until it was dropped in 1924 because of difficulties excluding professional players from the amateur game.

It was absent from this stage for 60 years until it was played again as a demonstration sport at Los Angeles 1984.

The move proved a success and tennis was re-introduced as a full medal event in time for Seoul 1988, and it has since gone from strength to strength.

The Olympic tennis competition is no different to the majority of major tournaments in that it is structured as a straight knockout event, where the best players are seeded to avoid facing each other until the later stages of the competition.

Men and women both play in singles and doubles matches, while the mixed doubles event has returned to the schedule for London 2012 for the first time since 1924.

All Olympic matches are played over the best of three sets, with two exceptions - the final of the men's competition is the best of five sets, while all mixed doubles matches are decided by a first-to-10 tie-break if the first two sets are shared.

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