Extract from Tennis’s strangest matches by Peter Seddon:

Since the Modern Olympic Games began in 1896, the number of occasions on which British competitors have made a clean sweep of the medals in one event has been, let’s admit it, rather fewer than they would have liked. So hats off to the British ladies’ tennis squad at the 1908 London Olympics who saw off all opposition to take gold, silver and bronze.

What a proud moment it must have been as the long-skirted heroines ran down every ball and rallied to the cause, pink cheeks all aglow, with true British spirit. But alas, behind this most agreeable 1-2-3 is a rather different story.

What could possibly be insinuated? Might it have been a hollow victory? Who were the opposition? In truth, a more appropriate question is ‘Where was the opposition?’ Let the farce commence.
Matters began only mildly strangely when it was decided there would be two Olympic tennis titles that year, a covered court tournament staged at Queen’s Club in May, followed by a contest on grass at Wimbledon in July.

Gladys Eastlake Smith served notice of Britain’s triumphal intentions by taking the indoor gold and two months later the grass court Olympics sprang into action at Wimbledon’s Worple Road ground.
‘Sprang’ may be too strong a word. Teetered proved to be about right. Thirteen ladies put their names forward for entry into the singles, among them six overseas players willing to mix it with the seven-strong British field. But things started to go pear-shaped early on.

Officials in charge of the draw squirmed uneasily as none of the overseas players turned up! They comforted themselves with the thought that it could still be a cracking contest even though Britain was guaranteed the medals. It was, after all, a strong field.

There was Charlotte Sterry, fresh from winning her fifth Wimbledon crown the month before, and six-times champion Blanche Hillyard; what a battle that might be. ‘Might’ proved to be the operative word as both of them scratched. The officials, meanwhile, merely began to itch a little.
That still left fine five players chasing those three elusive medals. It was fighting talk but nothing more as the destination of gold, silver and bronze was decided by playing just four matches in four rounds.

In a ludicrous draw, which included all eight phantom players, walkovers were the order of the day. Madame Fenwick, the French hope, was entirely conspicuous by her absence but still progressed to the semi-final draw by first ‘defeating’ the equally invisible Austrian torchbearer Miss Matouch and following this walkover with another over fellow truant Charlotte Sterry.

While Madame Fenwick might have read of her disembodied Olympic progress with not a little astonishment from the comfort of a sun-drenched terrace somewhere on the French Riviera, Dorothy Chambers Lambert seized gold by winning three matches comfortably. Her opponent in the final was Dora Boothby, who just about made a game of it by losing 6-1 7-5 after getting there without striking a ball, courtesy of two walkovers. Thus she became the honoured recipient of an Olympic silver medal without winning a match and by taking only six games.

Even that performance was heroic compared to the one that captured the bronze; that coveted gong went to Ruth Winch whose only match was her semi-final defeat againt Chambers Lambert in which she took the meastly total of two games.

No matter! It was a triple triumph for the British who had steadfastly overcome the absentee Austain, French and Hungarian entants by adhering to the most important principle of lawn tennis competition. The cynics may chorus ‘It’s a lottery’ and that’s precisely the point.

Those British girls weren’t daft. They knew the first rule of any competition. If you’re not in it you can’t win it.

French Olympic team outfit for Rio 2016

Lacoste, official outfitter of the French Olympic teams since Sochi 2014, revealed France’s looks for Rio 2016.

Opening and closing ceremony outfits:

French team Olympics uniforms

French team Olympics uniforms

Medal stand apparel:

French team Olympics uniforms

French team Olympics uniforms

Olympic village outfits:

French team Olympics uniforms

French team Olympics uniforms

French Olympic team outfit

The collection is on sale online and in Lacoste stores, but only in France.

Stay tuned for more Olympics coverage on Tennis Buzz.

Milos Raonic, Ice in our veins campaign

The Canadian Olympic Committee launched the “Ice In Our Veins” campaign today with the Summer Olympics just 100 days away.

The campaign – which features, amongst others, tennis star Milos Raonic, sprinter Justyn Warner and diver Jennifer Abel – was unveiled on the Canadian team’s digital channels and via athletes’ social media channels.

“We want to inspire Canadians, our athletes, our partners,” said COC chief marketing officer Derek Kent. “We want people to rally behind Team Canada. They work so hard behind the scenes, out of the spotlight in between the Games. It’s time to start telling the athletes’ stories and that’s what this campaign does.”

“I think (the video) is something that will resonate not only throughout Canada, but I think many parts of the world,” said Milos Raonic.

Behind the scenes with Raonic:

Stay tuned for more Olympics coverage on Tennis Buzz.

Olympic gold medallist Rafael Nadal

14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal was named Spain’s flagbearer for the opening ceremony of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics Games:

Nadal was chosen as the country’s flag bearer for the 2012 London Games, but had to pull out with an injury and was replaced by his friend Pau Gasol.

“For me it was an amazing feeling when I was told I would carry [the flag] in 2012. It was terrible news when I had to pull out of London. I’ve missed Grand Slams and Davis Cups in my career but the toughest thing was the 2012 Olympics.”

Rafa won the gold in Beijing in 2008 and it remains one of the biggest moments of his career:

“To see the Spanish flag being raised to the accompaniment of the national anthem as I stood on the winner’s podium: well, it was one of my life’s proudest moments.”

Stay tuned for more Olympics coverage on Tennis Buzz.

Tokyo unveils Olympic logo

Tokyo 2020 unveiled the official emblems of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Harmonized Chequered Emblems. The logo replaces the first choice which was scrapped last year after the designer was accused of plagiarism.

The new design was selected following an open competition. Four designs were shortlisted out of 14,000 received from all over the world:

According to its Japanese designer, Asao Tokoro, the design represents different countries, cultures and ways of thinking. It incorporates the message of ‘unity in diversity’.

Follow our Olympics coverage on Tennis Buzz.