Australia can lament the hiatus in tennis’s appearance in the Olympic program as it surely would have picked up many more medals when the Australian men were dominating the world’s tournaments in the 1950s and 1960s.
Since its return as an Olympic sport, tennis has provided Australia with one gold, one silver and four bronze medals. Australia’s Edwin Flack, the winner of the 800m and 1500m athletics titles in 1896, also played in doubles tennis at those Olympics. His partner was an Englishman, George Robertson and the pair won bronze.
The gold and silver medals were won by ‘The Woodies’ (Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge) in the men’s doubles at Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 respectively. Elizabeth Smylie and Wendy Turnbull won bronze in the women’s doubles at Seoul 1988 and Rachel McQuillan with Nicole Bradtke (then Provis) did likewise at Barcelona 1992. At Athens 2004, Alicia Molik won Australia’s first individual tennis medal, a bronze in the women’s singles.
Australia took a strong team to London including 2011 US Open winner Sam Stosur, former world number one Lleyton Hewitt and rising star Bernard Tomic. Stalwart Hewitt was Australia’s best performer as he made the men’s third round before going down to world number two Novak Djokovic. He went on to make the quarterfinals with Stosur in the mixed doubles where they were defeated by Great British pair and eventual silver medallists Andy Murray and Laura Robson.