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In Pictures: Wimbledon stars pay tribute to sporting heroes

By Ellen Branagh

The world's top tennis players have revealed their sporting heroes in a new book published to celebrate the Olympics.

The events start weeks after the end of Wimbledon - the Olympic tennis event will be at the All England Club from July 28 to August 5, and the Paralympic event is at Eton Manor on September 1 to 8.

The ITF's book - Aspire, Inspire: Celebrating Tennis At The Olympics 2012 - features 36 of the world's leading tennis players and specially commissioned photos of them posing with pictures of themselves as children and talking about their sporting heroes.

It looks at which athletes inspired them when they were younger and also has good luck messages from those heroes.

Among the stars in the book are British number one Andy Murray, who picked US track and field star Michael Johnson as his hero.

Johnson, an Olympian and world and Olympic record holder, is considered one of the greatest long sprinters in the history of track and field.

Also in the book is Beijing bronze medallist Novak Djokovic, who nominated Italian skier Alberto Tomba as his hero, as well as Olympic champion Rafael Nadal, who talks about his memories of the Barcelona 1992 Olympics.

Some players nominated other tennis stars as their heroes, including Olympic doubles champion and six-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer, who chose 1992 Barcelona champion Marc Rosset as his hero.

Federer himself was picked by Japan's Kei Nishikori, while Beijing bronze medallist Vera Zvonereva chose 2000 Sydney champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

Victoria Azarenka selected pole vaulter Sergey Bubka and wheelchair tennis star Esther Vergeer chose Dutch swimmer Pieter van den Hoogenband.

Also included in the book are Kim Clijsters, Juan Martin del Potro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti said: "I believe this book shows the impact the Olympics has had on the lives of the current generation of tennis players, and how proud they are to represent their countries in the Olympic and Paralympic tennis events.

"The book also highlights the mutual respect between tennis players and athletes from other sports, with the Games providing a unique opportunity for all athletes to come together."

The book follows ITF publication Journey To Beijing, which was produced for the last Olympic Games in China.

Here is the list of tennis Olympians and their sporting heroes:


Tomas Berdych - Czech men's ice hockey team (ice hockey)

Bob and Mike Bryan - The Dream Team (1992 US men's basketball team)

Marin Cilic - Goran Ivanisevic (tennis)

Juan Martin del Potro - Javier Sotomayor (high jump)

Novak Djokovic - Alberto Tomba (skiing)

Roger Federer - Marc Rosset (tennis)

David Ferrer - Jordi Arrese (tennis)

Mardy Fish - Dan O'Brien and Dave Johnson (decathlon)

Jurgen Melzer - Carl Lewis (athletics)

Max Mirnyi - Vladimir Salnikov (swimming)

Juan Monaco - Manu Ginobili (basketball)

Gael Monfils - Michael Johnson (athletics)

Andy Murray - Michael Johnson (athletics)

Rafael Nadal - Spanish Olympic Team at 1992 Barcelona

Kei Nishikori - Roger Federer (tennis)

Milos Raonic - Pete Sampras (tennis)

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - Michael Johnson (athletics)

Stanislas Wawrinka - Kobe Bryant (basketball)


Victoria Azarenka - Sergey Bubka (pole vault)

Dominika Cibulkova - Slovak men's ice hockey team (ice hockey)

Kim Clijsters - Tia Hellebaut (high jump)

Gisela Dulko - Argentine women's hockey team (hockey)

Petra Kvitova - Michael Phelps (swimming)

Bethanie Mattek-Sands - Shannon Miller (gymnastics)

Shahar Peer - Gal Fridman (windsurfing)

Andrea Petkovic - Bode Miller (skiing)

Agnieszka Radwanska - Michael Phelps (swimming)

Francesca Schiavone - Usain Bolt (athletics)

Peng Shuai - Li Ning (gymnastics)

Samantha Stosur - Cathy Freeman (athletics)

Caroline Wozniacki - Michael Phelps (swimming)

Vera Zvonareva - Yevgeny Kafelnikov (tennis)


Shingo Kunieda - Ryoko Tani (judo)

Maikel Scheffers - Maarten van der Weijden (swimming)

Esther Vergeer - Pieter van den Hoogenband (swimming)

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