Reigning Olympic doubles champions Serena and Venus Williams and Bob and Mike Bryan lead a talented squad of 12 players who qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Tennis Team.
The remaining members are making their Olympic debut. Completing the women’s squad are singles players Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens and the doubles team of Bethanie Mattek-Sands and CoCo Vandeweghe. The Williams sisters will compete in both singles and doubles. On the men’s side, singles players include Brian Baker, Steve Johnson, Denis Kudla and Jack Sock. Johnson and Sock will team up to join the Bryans in the doubles competition.
The U.S. will nominate two entries in mixed doubles, which will be competed for only the second time since tennis returned to the Olympic program at the Seoul 1988 Games. The teams will be put together from the 12-player roster after the players arrive in Rio.
Named to their fourth and fifth Olympic teams, respectively, Serena and Venus will look to defend their doubles gold and extend U.S. dominance in the event. In the nine times that women’s doubles has been played in the Olympic Games since 1920, the U.S. has won seven gold medals. The only two times an American duo has not taken Olympic gold was at the inaugural competition at the Antwerp 1920 Olympic Games and again at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. The Williams sisters have contributed three golds to that dominance, having won the tournament three of the last four times. Serena also will be defending her individual gold medal, won on Wimbledon’s Centre Court at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The Bryans earn their fourth Olympic selection and are in search of their third Olympic medal in as many Games, having won gold in London and bronze at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Here’s a look at the 12 players who will comprise the 2016 U.S. Olympic Tennis Team:
Keys, 21, enjoyed a solid 2015 season, highlighted by her reaching the Wimbledon quarterfinals and the semifinals of the Australian Open, where she faced the Williams sisters in consecutive matches. She defeated Venus in the quarterfinals but lost to Serena in the semifinals. She also was the runner-up at the 2015 Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina. Making her Top 10 debut at No. 9 in the latest world ranking, she reached the final of this year’s Italian Open, where she was defeated by Serena Williams. Her first WTA title came in June 2014 at the AEGON International in the United Kingdom.
Ranked No. 84 individually and No. 12 in the world in doubles, Mattek-Sands, 31, has won 15 WTA Tour titles. During an exceptionally successful 2015 season, she won the Australian Open and French Open with Czech player Lucie Safarova. That year she also teamed with Olympian Mike Bryan to win the French Open mixed doubles and was runner-up in mixed doubles with Olympian Sam Querrey at the US Open. She has won 19 WTA doubles titles and represented the U.S. in Federation Cup play since 2009.
Stephens, 23, established herself as a player to be reckoned with when she defeated Serena Williams on the way to the semifinals of the 2013 Australian Open. She also advanced to the Wimbledon quarterfinals that year. Currently ranked No. 23 in the world, her ranking has been as high as No. 11. She won her first WTA title at the 2015 Citi Open. She enjoyed success in doubles at the junior level, teaming with Italy’s Timea Babos to win the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open junior doubles titles in 2010.
Currently ranked No. 35 individually and No. 20 in doubles, both career bests, Vandeweghe, 24, is a second-generation Olympian from a heralded American sports family. Her mother, Tauna, swam at the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games at age 16; her uncle, Kiki, was a standout basketball player at UCLA and for the Los Angeles Lakers; grandfather Ernie Vandeweghe played in the NBA and later was the Lakers’ team doctor. She is the granddaughter of Miss America 1952 Colleen Kay Hutchins. Earlier this season, she advanced to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open after reaching the US Open semifinals last year. She recorded her second WTA singles title this year at Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, a title she also won in 2014. She and Mattek-Sands combined to win the 2016 Indian Wells doubles title, her first.
The reigning Olympic champion in both singles and doubles, Serena Williams, 34, will participate in her fourth Olympic Games in Rio. A three-time Olympic doubles champion with her sister, Venus, Serena currently is ranked No. 1 in the world. Her 22 Grand Slam singles titles tie her for second with Steffi Graf, just two behind all-time leader Margaret Court. A five-time winner of the WTA Tour Championships, she has combined with Venus to win 13 Grand Slam doubles titles; the duo is undefeated in Grand Slam doubles finals. Serena is one of only six women in history to be ranked No. 1 simultaneously in both singles and doubles.
Currently ranked No. 7 in the world, Venus, 36, holds an Olympic gold medal in singles, won at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, and three Olympic golds in doubles (2000, 2008, 2012). When she won both singles and doubles gold in Sydney, she was the first player to do so in the same Olympic Games since Helen Wills Moody at the Paris 1924 Olympic Games. A five-time Wimbledon champion, her 49 career singles titles and seven Grand Slam titles are second only to Serena among active players.
Baker, 31, may be the dark horse of the Olympic tournament due to the amount of time he has spent on the sidelines dealing with injury. From 1999 to 2014, he underwent 11 different surgeries, including work on both knees, both hips, his back and his right elbow. Prior to his return at the 2016 Australian Open, the last time he had played was the 2013 US Open. He showed great promise as a young player, reaching the junior final at Roland Garros in 2003. A native of Nashville, Tennessee, he used his downtime to earn a business administration degree, which he received in 2015 from Belmont University, where he also coached tennis.
Bob and Mike Bryan
The reigning Olympic doubles champions, the twin Bryan brothers are heading to their fourth Games. In addition to their gold in London, the twin brothers won bronze at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. They have dominated international doubles play since achieving their first No. 1 ranking in September 2003. Their gold medal in London made them the only the second men’s doubles team to achieve a career golden slam. They have reached 29 Grand Slam finals, winning 16 and have played in a final on Wimbledon’s famed Centre Court eight times, where they have won three Wimbledon titles and their Olympic gold medal. From 2004 through 2013, they reached the Australian Open final nine times and won six. Their latest Grand Slam win, the 2014 US Open, was their landmark 100th title together.
Johnson, 26, is ranked No. 29 in the world in singles and No. 43 in doubles, where he will team with Jack Sock. His individual ranking matches a career high he achieved Feb. 8. He embarked on his professional career four years ago after completing his eligibility at the University of Southern California, where he won NCAA singles titles as a junior and senior and team titles all four years. He closed out his collegiate career with 72 consecutive wins, twice ending the season ranked the No. 1 collegiate player. Had a stellar 2014, which saw him vault 120 spots in the world rankings, closing out at No. 27.
Kudla will turn 24 on Aug. 17, three days after the tennis competition in Rio concludes. Currently ranked No. 102 in the world, Kudla was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and moved to the U.S. when he was 1. A good start to the 2016 season propelled him to his highest career world ranking, 53rd, on May 23, after finishing 2015 in the top 100 for the first time. He prefers to play on hard courts, which will be the surface played in Rio. Ranked as high as No. 3 in the world as a junior, he reached the boys’ singles final at the 2010 US Open, where he lost to Olympic teammate Sock.
Sock, 23, currently is ranked No. 26 in the world in singles and No. 22 in doubles, where he will team with Steve Johnson in Rio. He turned pro in 2011 after graduating from Blue Valley North High School in the Kansas City suburb of Leawood, Kansas. He was undefeated in interscholastic play, going 80-0 and winning four consecutive state championships. He has improved his year-end ranking each of the past five years, rising to as high as No. 22 last January. He won the 2010 U.S. Tennis Association boys’ 18s nationals to earn a wild card entry into the US Open, where he won the junior championship. He has enjoyed success in doubles, teaming with Canada’s Vasek Pospisil to win doubles at Wimbledon in 2014 and Indian Wells the following year.