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The precursor to tennis was the “jeu de paume”, which originated in France in the 11th century. It was played in a monastery courtyard and involved using the palm of the hand to hit a ball against the walls and sloping roofs. Tennis as we know it today was developed in 19th century England. As the sport’s soaring popularity overtook that of croquet, the All England Croquet Club decided to designate its lawns to be used for tennis. Several national federations were set up worldwide throughout the 19th century, culminating in the birth of the International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF) in 1913. 

Brief overview of the rules

Olympic tennis is contested in the men’s and ladies’ singles, as well as the men’s, ladies’ and mixed doubles. Singles matches are played to the best of three sets. Tie-breaks are established in case of equality at the end of the sets in every olympic tennis tournament. 

Olympic history

Tennis has been contested at the Olympic Games on and off throughout history. It was one of the sports played at the first modern Olympiad in Athens in 1896, however, it was withdrawn from the programme after the 1924 Games due to problems that arose when tennis turned professional. Despite a return as a demonstration in Mexico 1968, tennis did not make its definitive come back to the Olympic Games before Seoul 1988.  Since then, the world’s greatest players have wowed the world at each edition of the Games. In recent years, the gold medal has been taken home by a number of superstars, such as Rafael Nadal, Olympic champion in the singles event in 2008 and doubles in 2016, Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer, Olympic doubles champions in 2008, as well as Serena and Venus Williams, who between them have won eight Olympic titles.

Events in 2024

The tennis events will take place between the 27th of July and the 4th of August.

  • Singles (women’s / men’s)
  • Doubles (women’s / men’s / mixed)

Venue in 2024

International organisation

International Tennis Federation

© Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Image

The pictogram