Photo: International Tennis Hall of FameAlbert Costa and Alex Corretja (ESP)
The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, in partnership with the Barcelona Olympic Foundation, has opened a special exhibition entitled 'Tennis and the Olympic Games', which is now on display at the Olympic and Sports Museum Joan Antoni Samaranch in Barcelona, Spain.
The exhibit will be on display until April 2014 and offers a comprehensive look at the most successful tennis players in Olympic history. It also details the interesting role that tennis has played in the Games, having gone from a full medal sport to having no presence for many years, and back to a full medal, extremely popular sport.
“Tennis is one of the world’s most international sports year-round, but when combined with the spirit of the Olympics, the game’s international nature truly shines. The sport has had a rich history within the Olympic movement, and we are delighted for this unique opportunity to showcase tennis’ role in the Games for the fans who visit the Olympic and Sports Museum,” said Hall of Fame President Stan Smith.
“The Hall of Fame’s mission is to preserve and celebrate the rich history of tennis, and we are grateful to the Olympic and Sports Museum of Barcelona, and our partners at the Barcelona Olympic Foundation, the Spanish Tennis Federation, and the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona – 1899 for helping us to share this important part of tennis history with an international audience.”
Hall of Famers Manuel Orantes and Andres Gimeno came out to support the exhibit opening, as did many players. Among those in attendance were Jordi Arrese, who was a silver medallist at Barcelona 1992, José Higueras, Lis Arilla, Jordi Bardou, and Alex Corretja and Albert Costa, doubles bronze medallists from Sydney 2000.
The exhibit features Olympians from many nations, including a full listing of every Olympic and Paralympic tennis medallist in history. There is special emphasis on Spain’s celebrated players, such as Hall of Famer Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Rafael Nadal, Conchita Martinez and Sergi Bruguera.
Among the highlighted artifacts in the exhibit is a racket of Andy Murray’s from the 2012 London Games, when he clinched the gold medal before an adoring home crowd at the All England Club and a racket belonging to London doubles gold medallist Bob Bryan.
Highlighting Spain’s great accomplishments in the Games, the exhibit includes memorabilia from Rafael Nadal’s success at Beijing 2008, when he won the gold medal, as well as memorabilia of Sanchez-Vicario’s from Atlanta 1996, when she won a silver medal in singles and a bronze in doubles.
Spanish players Alex Corretja and Albert Costa contributed their rackets from the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney when they won the bronze medal. In addition, Sergio Casal’s silver medal from the 1988 Games in Seoul is on display. A particularly interesting item in the exhibit is Spaniard Eduardo Flaquer’s scrapbook and racket from the 1924 Olympic Games, which was the last year that tennis was a medal sport until 1988.
The exhibit also showcases the Paralympic Games, highlighting how eight competitors from five nations showed off their skills at the 1988 Seoul Olympics in a convincing demonstration that propelled wheelchair tennis to a full medal sport at Barcelona in 1992.
Imagery throughout the exhibit shows great moments from the Games, including the unstoppable Williams sisters, who have captured three gold medals in doubles and one each in singles; the extraordinary wheelchair tennis champion Esther Vergeer, who has won seven Paralympic gold medals (four in singles, three in doubles); and the overjoyed Murray, from the moment he captured gold before his home crowd at the Olympics in London in 2012.