LONDON -- Top-ranked Roger Federer and No. 2 Andy Roddick
head the list of 27 of the leading 30 men's players who will
compete in tennis at the Athens Olympics.
Justine Henin-Hardenne leads the women's entry list, which
features seven of the top 10 in the rankings, including Venus and
"This is the best field we have had for tennis in the Olympic
Games," International Tennis Federation president Francesco Ricci
Bitti said Thursday.
Tennis returned as a full medal sport in 1988.
"It took a few years for the players and the fans to understand
what an honor and a privilege it is to compete for your country at
the Olympic Games but the response that we have received shows that
the Olympics is now one of the most important events in tennis,"
The Athens tournament, Aug. 15-22, will have 23 of the top 30
women in the rankings.
Federer will be Switzerland's sole entry in men's singles and
will play doubles with Yves Allegro. He is currently in the
Wimbledon semifinals after winning the tournament last year.
Roddick's U.S. teammates are Taylor Dent, Vince Spadea, Mardy
Fish and the doubles pair of twins Bob and Mike Bryan. Roddick and
Fish will also play doubles.
Argentina will field a strong singles contingent with French
Open champion Gaston Gaudio, No. 3 Guillermo Coria, No. 4 David
Nalbandian and No. 18 Juan Ignacio Chela.
Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero and Carlos Moya, Britain's Tim
Henman and Germany's Rainer Schuettler are also in the singles
Notable absences are former No. 1s and Grand Slam tournament
champions Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt.
Venus Williams returns to defend her singles gold medal and will
partner sister Serena to defend their doubles title. Jennifer
Capriati, who won gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and Chanda
Rubin are also in the singles draw.
Martina Navratilova, who last week became the oldest woman since
1922 to win a singles match at Wimbledon, will make her Olympic
debut at 47, partnering Lisa Raymond in the doubles.
Henin-Hardenne will be Belgium's only competitor after Kim
Clijsters withdrew because of a sponsorship dispute. French Open
champion Anastasia Myskina heads the Russian squad, which also
includes 2000 silver medalist Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova
and Nadia Petrova.
Amelie Mauresmo heads France's team, along with Mary Pierce,
Sandrine Testud and Nathalie Dechy.
Fifty-three countries will compete in Athens, one more than
Players will receive ATP and WTA ranking points for entering the
Olympic tennis tournament.