Tennis Preview

The United States – the leader in Olympic tennis medals (24 – 14 golds, three silvers and seven bronzes) since the sport was reinstated as an Olympic medal event in 1988 – expects continued success in 2021, on the heels of winning three medals at the Rio Games in 2016.

The Olympic tennis competition in 2021 will follow a knockout format with 64-player men's and women's singles draws and 32-team men’s and women’s doubles draws, as well as a 16-team mixed doubles event, which was first contested at the London Games in 2012. Tennis at the Tokyo Games will be played July 24-Aug. 1 on hard courts at the Ariake Tennis Park in the Tokyo Olympic Park, and all matches will be best-of-three sets.

It will be a battle for the illustrious Olympics spots with the U.S. women having 17 women ranked in the Top 100 (as of March 16, 2020), led by 2020 Australian Open champion and world No. 4 Sofia Kenin of Pembroke Pines, Florida, and four-time Olympic medalist, 23-time Grand Slam champion and world No. 9 Serena Williams of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Other contenders include 2016 Olympian and world No. 13 Madison Keys of Orlando, Florida; No. 19 Alison Riske of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; No. 28 Amanda Anisimova of Aventura, Florida; 2016 Olympian and world No. 37 Sloane Stephens of Coral Springs, Florida; No. 48 Jennifer Brady of Orlando, Florida; No. 51 Danielle Collins of St. Petersburg, Florida; No. 52 Cori Gauff of Delray Beach, Florida; No. 60 Bernarda Pera of Tenafly, New Jersey; No. 62 Lauren Davis of Gates Mills, Ohio; five-time Olympic medalist and world No. 67 Venus Williams of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; No. 73 Taylor Townsend of Chicago, Illinois; No. 79 Madison Brengle of Dover, Delaware; No. 80 Jessica Pegula of Buffalo, New York; No. 88 Christina McHale of Teaneck, New Jersey; and No. 96 Kristie Ahn of Flushing Meadows, New York.

The women’s doubles spots will also come down to the wire. Nicole Melichar (Brno, Czech Republic) and 2016 gold medalist Bethanie Mattek-Sands (Rochester, Minnesota)—who won mixed doubles gold in Rio with Jack Sock (Lincoln, Nebraska)—will look to position themselves on the roster.

Competition for a spot on the men’s roster will be just as tough, with eight Americans ranked in the Top 100 (as of March 16, 2020): 2012 Olympian and No. 21 John Isner of Greensboro, North Carolina; No. 24 Taylor Fritz of Rancho Santa Fe, California; No. 39 Reilly Opelka of West Palm Beach, Florida; 2008 Olympian and No. 45 Sam Querrey of Thousand Oaks, California; No. 55 Tennys Sandgren of Gallatin, Tennessee; No. 57 Tommy Paul of Voorhees, New Jersey; 2016 Olympian and No. 63 Steve Johnson of Orange, California; and No. 81 Frances Tiafoe of Hyattsville, Maryland.

Also looking to participate at the Tokyo Games will be three-time Olympians Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan (Camarillo, California), the most decorated men’s doubles tennis pair of all time. The Tokyo Games would be the duo’s fourth Olympics. They made their debut in Athens in 2004, followed by a bronze-medal performance in Beijing in 2008, and a gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics. Additionally in the doubles mix are two of the mixed doubles medalists from Rio: gold medalist Sock, who teamed with Mattek-Sands, and Rajeev Ram, who teamed with Venus Williams to claim the silver, will both look to add to their Olympic resumes.

Updated on July 21, 2020. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

 

The End of An Era?: Tokyo might see the end of the Olympic road for two of the greatest sibling teams in U.S. Olympic tennis history. The Williams sisters (Serena and Venus) and Bryan brothers (Mike and Bob) have collected a total of 14 Olympic medals over their careers. Each has expressed the desire to play in

Tokyo and will see if they make it to one more Games. All four will be fighting to make the team and take another shot at adding to their legacies.

Venus leads all with five medals (three golds in doubles: Sydney 2000, Beijing 2008 and London 2012; one gold in singles: Sydney 2000; and a silver in mixed doubles: Rio 2016)

Serena has four medals (three golds in doubles in: Sydney 2000, Beijing 2008 and London 2012; one gold in singles: London 2012)

Mike has three medals (a gold in doubles: London 2012; a bronze in doubles: Beijing 2008; and a bronze in mixed doubles London 2012)

Bob has two medals (a gold in doubles: London 2012; and a bronze in doubles: Beijing 2008)

Who is the Greatest Tennis Olympian?: Venus Williams will look to lay claim to that title and become the most-decorated tennis player in Olympic history as she seeks to win her sixth medal, which would break the tie she currently holds with Great Britain’s Kathleen McKane, who won five medals between 1920-1924.

New Faces and a Strong Future: If the early part of the 2020 season is any indication, then the Tokyo Games might just be the coming-out party for a first-time Olympian as Americans seem to use the biggest stages to have breakout performances. The 2020 team could feature many players who are not household names as of yet. As of March 16, 2020, some of U.S. women looking to make their Olympic debut include 2020 Australian Open Champion and world No. 4 Sofia Kenin of Pembroke Pines, Florida; No. 19 Alison Riske of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; No. 28 Amanda Anisimova of Aventura, Florida; No. 48 Jennifer Brady of Orlando, Florida; No. 51 Danielle Collins of St. Petersburg, Florida; No. 52 Cori Gauff of Delray Beach, Florida; No. 60 Bernada Pera of Tenafly, New Jersey; No. 60 Lauren Davis of Gates Mills, Ohio; No. 67 Taylor Townsend of Chicago, Illinois; No. 76 Madison Brengle of Dover, Delaware; No. 79 Jessica Pegula of Buffalo, New York; No. 86 Christina McHale of Teaneck, New Jersey; and No. 93 Kristie Ahn of Flushing Meadows, New York.

Six Olympians who made their debut at the Rio Games in 2016 will look to continue to raise their games in the quest to return to the Olympic stage in Tokyo, including, on the women’s side: Keys, Stephens, Bethanie Mattek-Sands; and on the men’s side: Steve Johnson of Orange, California; Jack Sock of Lincoln, Nebraska, and Rajeev Ram of Denver, Colorado.

 

Men (in no particular order):

John Isner (35; Greensboro, North Carolina): The top-ranked American man and London 2012 Olympic singles quarterfinalist, Isner is a former four-year star and NCAA team and doubles champion at the University of Georgia. He has finished the year ranked in the top 20 every year since 2010 and owns 15 ATP singles titles.

Taylor Fritz (22; Rancho Santa Fe, California): A former world junior No. 1 and US Open boys’ singles champion, Fritz had a standout 2019 season. Won first ATP title at Eastbourne (d. Querrey) and reached the finals in Atlanta and Los Cabos, Mexico. He currently holds a career-high ranking of No. 24 in the world.

Sam Querrey (32; Thousand Oaks, California): A former world No. 11 with 20-plus singles wins in 10 of the last 11 seasons, Querrey ranks second to Isner among active American men with 10 career ATP singles titles.

Frances Tiafoe (22; Orlando, Florida): A rising star who reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam event for the first time at the 2019 Australian Open shortly after his 21st birthday, Tiafoe became the youngest American Grand Slam quarterfinalist since Andy Roddick in 2003.

Reilly Opelka (22; West Palm Beach, Florida): The former Wimbledon boys’ singles champion is known for his imposing height (6-foot-11; tied with Ivo Karlovic for tallest tennis player in the professional history of the sport) and mammoth serve. Opelka defeated Isner en route to winning his first ATP singles title in 2019 at the New York Open and he won his second ATP title in February 2020 when he won the Delray Beach Open.

Tommy Paul (23; Voorhees, New Jersey): Started the 2020 season reaching his first ATP semifinal in Adelaide, Australia, then beat world No. 20 Dimitrov to reach the third round at the Australian Open and later rose into the Top 70 for the first time in his career.

Tennys Sandgren (29; Gallatin, Tennessee): Made it to the quarterfinals of the 2020 Australian Open before falling to Roger Federer in an epic five-set battle. Sandgren won his first ATP title in 2019 in Auckland, Australia. He played two seasons at University of Tennessee, leading the Volunteers to the 2010 NCAA team final as a freshman.

Steve Johnson (30; Orange, California): Johnson posted seven wins at 2016 Rio Olympics, finishing as a doubles bronze medalist with Jack Sock and singles quarterfinalist (lost to eventual gold medalist Andy Murray in a third-set tiebreak). Johnson won back-to-back titles at Houston in 2017-18, becoming first repeat champion at event since Roddick in 2001-02, and captured grass court titles at 2016 Nottingham and 2018 Newport. He attended the University of Southern California from 2009-2012, sweeping NCAA team titles in all four seasons and winning two NCAA singles titles (2011-12). Johnson finished 2011 and 2012 as the No. 1 college player, ending his collegiate career with 72 straight singles wins. His coach at USC, Peter Smith, is now one of his ATP Tour coaches.

Bob and Mike Bryan (42; Camarillo, California): The Bryan brothers are considered the greatest doubles team of all time, with 16 Grand Slam doubles titles together. They were the No. 1-seeded men’s doubles team in Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 (bronze) and London 2012 (gold) and resumed competing together in 2019 after Bob sat out much of 2018 following hip surgery. The brothers are winners of 119 ATP doubles titles, most recently in Delray Beach on Feb. 23.

Jack Sock (27; Lincoln, Nebraska): Sock finished 2017 at career-high No. 8 in singles and 2018 at career-high No. 2 in doubles. He is one of two active players to compete at ATP Finals in both singles and doubles. Sock is the only men’s or women’s tennis player to earn multiple medals at 2016 Rio Olympics, winning gold in mixed doubles with Bethanie Mattek-Sands and bronze in men’s doubles with Steve Johnson.

Rajeev Ram (36; Denver, Colorado): Ram achieved a career high of No. 5 in doubles on Feb. 3, 2020 and captured Australian Open titles in 2020 men's doubles and 2019 mixed doubles. He set an Open era record by winning his first Grand Slam men's doubles title in his 58th appearance. Ram is the winner of 20 doubles titles and claimed the silver medal in mixed doubles at the 2016 Rio Olympics with Venus Williams after losing to fellow American’s Jack Sock and Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the gold medal match. Ram was named to Team USA when the Bryan brothers withdrew six days before the Olympics began.

 

Women (in no particular order)

Sloane Stephens (27; of Coral Springs, Florida): The 2017 US Open champion owns a career-high world ranking of No. 3 and has reached the quarterfinals or better at every Grand Slam event. Stephens owns six career WTA titles, was a Rio 2016 Olympian and is the daughter of Sybil Smith, an all-American swimmer for Boston University, and the late John Stephens, a former running back for the New England Patriots.

Serena Williams (38; Palm Beach Gardens, Florida): Williams is widely regarded as the greatest tennis player of all time with 23 Grand Slam singles titles and 14 Grand Slam doubles titles. Won her 73rd career WTA singles title this January in Auckland, New Zealand, which ranks fifth all-time. In 2012, she captured the Olympic gold medal in singles and women’s doubles with her sister Venus Williams in London. With the Olympic singles win, Serena joined Steffi Graf as the only women to complete the career Golden Slam—the Olympics and the four Grand Slam events—and she is the only person to accomplish the feat in both singles and doubles. She also is a three-time doubles gold medalist having also won Olympic gold in 2000 and 2008. She is currently ranked No. 9 in singles in the world. She gave birth to daughter, Alexis Olympia, and married Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in 2017.

Madison Keys (25; Orlando, Florida): Keys is a 2017 US Open finalist who has reached the singles semifinals at three of the four Grand Slam events and has a career-high ranking of No. 7. Keys owns five career WTA titles and reached the semifinals of the Rio Games in 2016, losing in the bronze-medal match.

Amanda Anisimova (18; Aventura, Florida): A former US Open junior champion, Anisimova reached the semifinals at the 2019 French Open, becoming the youngest American woman to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since Venus Williams in 1997. She had a breakout 2019 season in which she won her first WTA title, in Bogota, Colombia, at 17 years, 222 days old – making her the youngest American to win a title since Serena Williams at 1999 Indian Wells. She reached the semifinals at the French Open, becoming the first male or female player born in the 2000s to advance to a Grand Slam semifinal. Anisimova ended 2019 ranked No. 24, the youngest of three teenagers in the Top 50. She lost her father and longtime coach Konstantin Anisimov, who passed away at 52 in August, prior to the 2019 US Open.

Sofia Kenin (21; Pembroke Pines, Florida): Kenin is the top-ranked American in the world at No. 4 (career high). She captured her first Grand Slam in January 2020 when she won the Australian Open, where she beat world No.1 Ashley Barty in the semifinals (the youngest player to defeat a world No. 1 since 20-year-old Maria Sharapova in 2008) and two-time Grand Slam winner Garbiñe Muguruza in a three-set final. Kenin was the youngest player in the Top 40 of the WTA Rankings at the beginning of 2019 and won her first WTA titles shortly thereafter – three singles, two doubles. She made headlines with her victory over Serena Williams at the French Open en route to the Round of 16. She is the 2014 Junior Fed Cup champion (16-and-under) and represented the U.S. at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in China.

Cori (Coco) Gauff (16; Delray Beach, Florida): Gauff continued her momentum from 2019 into 2020 and she made it to the Round of 16 at the first Grand Slam of the year, losing to eventual winner Sofia Kenin. On her way to the Round of 16, she beat the reigning Australian Open Champion Naomi Osaka and two-time finalist Venus Williams. She made international headlines in 2019 at Wimbledon for being the youngest-ever qualifier and reaching the fourth round (d. V. Williams first round). Gauff was the youngest to do so at Wimbledon since 1991. She ended 2018 ranked No. 2 in the ITF Junior Rankings and was the French Open girls’ singles champion in 2018 (d. McNally), at 14 years, 2 months, 27 days old – making her the fifth youngest French Open girls' singles champion. She won the 2018 Orange Bowl in Plantation, Florida, becoming the youngest Orange Bowl singles champion in 15 years. Gauff won the 2018 US Open girls’ doubles championship with partner Caty McNally and was a finalist at the 2017 US Open girls’ singles championship, becoming, at age 13, the youngest-ever finalist. She led the U.S. to the 16-and-under Junior Fed Cup title in 2018 and to the 14-and-under ITF World Junior Tennis girls' championship in 2017. Her father, Corey, played college basketball at Georgia State University and her mother, Candi, was a track star at Florida State University.

Alison Riske (30; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania): Riske is ranked No. 19 in singles and No. 83 in doubles. She had her best season as a professional in 2019, winning her second career WTA singles title, reaching two additional finals and achieving a career-high No. 18 world ranking. Riske also defeated world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands (35; Rochester, Minnesota): Mattek-Sands won her 27th career WTA doubles title with Sofia Kenin in Beijing in 2019 and became the No. 1-ranked doubles player in the world in January 2017. She is the winner of nine Grand Slam doubles titles, five in women’s doubles (two Australian Open; two French Open; and one US Open) and four in mixed doubles (two US Open; one Roland Garros; and one Australian Open). Mattek-Sands missed more than a year of competition following a knee injury suffered while playing singles at Wimbledon in 2017 and came back to compete in the 2018 US Open and won the mixed doubles title with Jamie Murray. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Mattek-Sands became a gold medalist in mixed doubles alongside Sock.

The Olympic tennis competition in 2021 entails 64-player draws for both men’s and women’s singles, 32-team draws for men’s and women’s doubles and a 16-team draw for mixed doubles.

Eligibility for Olympic tennis is based on the ATP/WTA world rankings. A player must be ranked among the Top 56 players in the world to qualify for direct acceptance. In addition, players must also comply with International Tennis Federation criteria which includes participation in the ITF’s international team events – Davis Cup and Fed Cup – over the course of the four-year period between Olympic tennis events. Players must also be in good standing with their respective national association. International computer rankings (ATP World Tour for men; WTA for women) as of June 7, 2021 (the Monday immediately following Roland Garros) will be used to determine eligible singles and doubles players for direct acceptance into the Olympic tennis event. Countries are allowed a maximum of four singles entries and two doubles teams per gender, a maximum of six men and six women.

The USTA establishes the selection procedures for the sport of tennis in the U.S. The full document can be found via the following link: USTA Athlete Selection Procedures

The ITF administers the Olympic tennis event and publishes the fact sheet, which is updated from time to time. The current version can be found via the following link: Tokyo 2020 Olympic Tennis Event Fact Sheet

Recognized world rankings of June 7, 2021, will be used to select eligible athletes for direct acceptance in singles and doubles competition.