Four Kastles Aiming for 2012 Olympic Games
1996 Olympic singles medalists Leander Paes, Sergi Bruguera and Andre Agassi
In addition to playing for a third Washington Kastles World TeamTennis title this summer, as many as four members of the 2012 team could be competing for their countries on the biggest stage in sports.
Leander Paes, Serena Williams and Venus Williams of the Kastles will be going for gold on the grass courts of Wimbledon, having met the qualifications required to receive entry into the London 2012 Olympic Games. New Kastle and French Open women's doubles quarterfinalist Anastasia Rodionova is also an Olympic hopeful for her adopted homeland of Australia.
Keep posted to the Kastles' Facebook and Twitter pages for word once the final Olympics selections are announced.
The two-time WTT MVP Paes already holds the all-time record among Asian athletes with five prior appearances at the Olympics. But before the Indian living legend gets to London, he has business to tend to in Paris.
Paes and Elena Vesnina defeated No. 1 seeds Max Mirnyi and Liezel Huber 4-6, 7-5, [10-5] on Tuesday to reach the French Open mixed doubles semifinals. Having clinched the career Grand Slam in men's doubles at the 2012 Australian Open, Paes is inching closer to accomplishing the same feat in mixed doubles.
With a semifinal win on Wednesday and a triumph in the final on Thursday, Paes would add the French Open title to his mixed doubles trophies from the Australian Open (2003, 2010), Wimbledon (1999, 2003, 2010) and US Open (2008). He would also become the fourth player in the Open Era (since 1968) to win all four major titles in two doubles disciplines, joining Hall-of-Famers Martina Navratilova, Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde.
One of the only other accolades missing from Paes' extensive resume is an Olympic doubles medal to go with the singles bronze he won at Atlanta in 1996. The identity of Paes' partner in London will be unveiled later this month, with World No. 12 Rohan Bopanna and No. 13 Mahesh Bhupathi among the leading candidates.
While Paes makes a record-setting sixth Olympic appearance, Serena and Venus will seek a share of history all their own. Both of the Williams sisters will have the chance to become the first tennis player in history with four gold medals. They won the women's doubles titles together at Sydney in 2000 and Beijing in 2008, with Venus also claiming the singles gold 12 years ago.
The Williams sisters will feel right at home on the Wimbledon grass at the Olympics.
(Photo by Susan Mullane/Camerawork USA)
Venus and Serena are certain to play singles since they are ranked among the Top 56 players in the world and the Top 4 players in the United States. But it has yet to be determined whether the Williams sisters will defend the women's doubles gold medals together.
Serena is expected to compete in mixed doubles with any of four potential partners: John Isner of the Boston Lobsters, Bob or Mike Bryan of the Kansas City Explorers or Andy Roddick.
After Serena and Venus bowed out of the French Open, Rodionova enjoyed a run to the women's doubles quarterfinals in Paris, boosting her chances of being accepted into the Olympics. Twenty-four teams will be granted direct entry into the women's doubles draw based on the combined singles or doubles rankings (whichever is better) of each team.
Rodionova is the top-ranked Aussie in women's doubles at No. 20 in the world. Her French Open doubles partner, 2010 WTT Finals MVP Jarmila Gajdosova, will rise to around No. 32 in the WTA rankings on the Olympics cutoff date of June 11. Should Tennis Australia keep the Rodionova/Gajdosova partnership intact, or nominate the Kastle alongside World No. 6 singles player Samantha Stosur, Rodionova has a good chance of making her Olympic debut following the WTT season.
She already knows what it feels like to stand atop a podium with medals around her neck. After becoming an Australian citizen in December 2009, the Russian-born Rodionova represented Australia with flying gold-and-green at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. 'Super Nova' swept the gold in women's singles and doubles and added a silver medal in mixed doubles.
The London 2012 Olympic Games begin on Saturday, July 28th, but you don't have to fly across the Atlantic Ocean to watch some of the world's best athletes in action. Tickets are available now and going fast to Kastles' home matches, which will feature as many as four Olympians representing Washington before they play for their respective countries.
Please visit Ticketmaster.com
to secure your seats to see Venus on July 16th, Serena on July 22nd and Leander and Anastasia all season long.
Anastasia Rodionova shows off one of her Commonwealth Games gold medals.(Photo courtesy of Rodionova.com