Martina Hingis, Michael Stich, Helena Sukova among Nominees for 2013 Induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame

NEWPORT, R.I., USA, September 6, 2012 – Martina Hingis, a former world No. 1 and the winner of five Grand Slam tournament singles titles, the 1991 Wimbledon champion and former world No. 2 Michael Stich, and the great Czech doubles player Helena Sukova, winner of 14 Grand Slam titles in doubles and mixed doubles have all been nominated to receive the highest honor available in the sport of tennis, induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. All three are nominated for the induction Class of 2013 in the Recent Player Category. In the Master Player Category, Thelma Coyne Long of Australia, who captured 19 Grand Slam titles between the 1930s and 1950s, has been nominated. Additionally, three individuals have been nominated in the Contributor Category for their work toward the growth of tennis- ESPN’s longtime tennis broadcaster Cliff Drysdale, tennis promoter and industry leader Charlie Pasarell, and Ion Tiriac, the Romanian tennis player turned influential player manager and tournament promoter.

 

The announcement of the 2013 nominees was made on the air durng the ESPN2 telecast of the US Open, where Drysdale was applauded by his colleagues, Hall of Famers Pam Shriver and John McEnroe, along with Patrick McEnroe and Chris Evert, Mary Joe Fernandez, and Darren Cahill.

 

“Martina Hingis, Michael Stich, and Helena Sukova worked hard to achieve the ultimate prizes in tennis- top world rankings, Grand Slam titles, Fed Cup and Davis Cup success, and Olympic medals. For their dedication to our sport and extraordinary achievements, I’m very pleased to announce that they have been nominated to receive our sport’s highest honor, induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame,” said Stan Smith, who was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1987 and now serves as the International Tennis Hall of Fame President and Chair of the Enshrinee Nominating Committee.

 

 
Smith added, “We are also pleased to honor Australia’s Thelma Coyne Long for her extraordinary success on the court. And of course, from a commitment to effective tennis news coverage to building up some of the world’s best tournaments, Cliff, Charlie, and Ion have all changed the tennis landscape for the better, and it is thanks to their efforts that we are able to enjoy tennis on such a grand, global scale today. I extend my congratulations to the nominees and our gratitude for their many contributions to the sport of tennis.”

 

Voting for the 2013 ballot will take place over the next several months, culminating with an announcement early next year to reveal the Class of 2013 Inductees. The International Media Panel, which is comprised of tennis journalists and authors, will vote on the Recent Player nominee. The International Masters Panel, which consists of Hall of Fame inductees and individuals who are highly knowledgeable of the sport and its history, will vote on the Master Player and Contributor nominees. To be inducted in any of the categories, an affirmative vote of 75% is required.

 

The Class of 2013 Induction Ceremony will be held on Saturday, July 13, 2013 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. The Ceremony will be held in conjunction with the annual Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour event.

 

Tickets for the tournament and Induction Ceremony will go on sale later this year with a pre-sale for International Tennis Hall of Fame Members, followed by the General Public ticket sale. Individuals interested in becoming a Hall of Fame Member or purchasing tickets should call 401-849-6053 and/or visit www.tennisfame.com.

 

Since 1955, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has inducted 225 people representing 19 countries. Located in Newport, Rhode Island, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of tennis. The Hall of Fame offers an extensive museum that chronicles the history of the sport and honors the game’s greatest legends. Surrounding the museum are 13 historic grass tennis courts that date back to 1880 and are open to the public, which play host to the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour tournament, and the annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in July. The facility hosts numerous additional public events year-round.

 

From winning the biggest titles in tennis to creating some of the sport’s most exciting tournaments, the nominees for induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2013 have all been integral in shaping the history of tennis. Following are detailed biographies of the nominees, grouped by category.

 

Recent Player: Martina Hingis, Michael Stich, Helena Sukova

Eligibility criteria for the Recent Player Category is as follows: active as competitors in the sport within the last 20 years prior to consideration; not a significant factor on the ATP or WTA Tour within five years prior to induction; a distinguished record of competitive achievement at the highest international level, with consideration given to integrity, sportsmanship and character.

 

Martina Hingis, 32, of Switzerland, was the world No. 1 singles player for 209 non-consecutive weeks and the No. 1 doubles player for 35 non-consecutive weeks. She is in the elite company of Martina Navratilova, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Lindsay Davenport, and Kim Clijsters as one of just five players in history to have held both the singles and doubles No. 1 WTA ranking simultaneously. Hingis won three consecutive Australian Open titles (1997, 1998, 1999), as well as the Wimbledon and US Open titles in 1997. In addition to her five Grand Slam singles titles, she also captured nine major doubles titles (three w/ Jana Novotna, two w/ Anna Kournikova, and one each w/Helena Sukova, Natasha Zvereva, Mirjana Lucic, and Mary Pierce) and one mixed doubles title (w/ Mahesh Bhupathi). In 1998, she achieved a Doubles Grand Slam.

 

Hingis won a total of 43 singles titles and 37 doubles titles over the course of her career, and had records of 548-133 in singles and 286-54 in doubles. In 1998, she led the Swiss Fed Cup team to its only Fed Cup final (lost 3-2 to Spain). She captured two WTA Tour Championships in singles (1998 and 2000) and two in doubles (1999 and 2000).

 

In 1997, Hingis was the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year, the WTA Tour Player of the Year, and the ITF Player of the Year.

 

Born into a successful tennis family, Hingis first picked up a racquet at just two years old and entered her first tournament at age four. At 12 years old, she won the French Open junior title, becoming the youngest player ever to win a Grand Slam junior title. She turned pro at age 14 and her career quickly took off, with Hingis setting a number of youngest-ever records along the way, including becoming the youngest ever world No. 1, a feat she achieved on March 31, 1997 at 16 years, 6 months, and 1 day. Hingis’ success was not based on powerful shots, instead she was known for her impeccable technical skill and ability to produce a wide array of shots. In particular, she was a talented net player and was able to place accurate drop shots just when she needed it most.

 

Hingis first retired from tennis in 2003, at the age of 22, due to injury. She made a comeback in 2006, winning two titles that year and closing the season at world No. 7. As a result, she was named the 2006 WTA Tour Comeback Player of the Year. She won her final title in 2007, before officially retiring. Since retirement, she has been active in World TeamTennis, and in 2011, she partnered with Lindsay Davenport to win the Roland Garros Legends title.

 

Michael Stich, 44, of Germany,was the 1991 Wimbledon champion, and in 1992, he partnered with John McEnroe to win the Wimbledon doubles title. In addition to his success at Wimbledon, he was a finalist at both the US Open (1994) and the French Open (1996). At the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, he partnered with Boris Becker to win the Gold Medal in doubles. In 1993, he defeated Pete Sampras to win the year-end ATP World Tour Championships.

 

Stich achieved a career-high ranking of world No. 2, and he was in the year-end top-20 every year from 1991-1996. He won 18 singles titles, and 10 doubles titles. He holds a career singles record of 385-176 and a doubles record of 165-111.

 

Stich was a member of the Germany’s championship Davis Cup team in 1993, and he was a dedicated Davis Cup team member from 1990 – 1996. He compiled a winning record of 21-9 in singles and 14-2 in doubles.

 

A skilled player at both the baseline and the net, Stich was successful on all surfaces throughout his career, and in 1991 and 1993, he won professional tournaments on all four surfaces.

 

Since retirement, Stich has devoted most of his time the Michael Stich Foundation, which he established in 1994 to provide support for children infected with HIV/AIDS. Additionally, he stays involved with tennis by sponsoring tennis camps for junior players in his hometown of Hamburg and by serving as a commentator for Eurosport and for the BBC TV and Radio.

 

Helena Sukova, 47, of the Czech Republic, won an impressive 14 Grand Slam tournament titles in women’s doubles and mixed doubles over the course of her career. She was also a two-time singles finalist at both the Australian Open and the US Open. She held the world No. 1 doubles ranking for 68 weeks and achieved a career high singles ranking of world No. 4.

 

Sukova captured a remarkable 69 doubles titles during the course of her career, and she compiled a doubles record of 752-220. She achieved a career Grand Slam in women’s doubles, winning four titles at Wimbledon, two at the US Open, one at the Australian Open and one at the French Open. In addition, she won two Silver Medals at the Olympic Games, partnered with Jana Novotna. In 1992, she won the doubles title at the WTA Championships with partner Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. She was a doubles finalist at the event four times.

 

In singles competition, she had a winning record of 614-307 and she won 10 singles titles. One of her most memorable singles victories was when she defeated Martina Navratilova in the semifinal round of the 1984 Australian Open, ending Navratilova’s historic 74-match winning streak. In 1985, she as a singles finalist at the WTA Championships.

 

Sukova was an integral part of the Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic Fed Cup teams for 13 years, and she was a playing member of four championship teams (1983, 1984, 1985, 1988). She holds several team records, including Most Total Wins – 57.

 

Sukova is a member of a prominent Czech tennis family. Her mother, Vera Puzejova Sukova was a women’s singles finalist at Wimbledon in 1962, and her father, Cyril Suk II, was president of the Czechoslovakian Tennis Federation. Her brother, Cyril Suk III, is a former professional player as well. The siblings teamed up to win three Grand Slam mixed doubles titles, at the French Open in 1991 and at Wimbledon in 1996 and 1997.

 

Sukova retired in 1998, and in 1999, she helped re-establish the International Lawn Tennis Club of the Czech Republic and became its president. From 2001 until 2008, she served on the executive committee of the Council of the International Clubs. She remains active in tennis, and is a co-founder of the Kids and Junior Tennis Advancement Organization in the Czech Republic. From February 2001 through November 2008 she served on the Presidium of the Czech Olympians’ Club and in June 2007 she was appointed by the Czech Olympic Committee to the Presidium of the Czech Fair Play Club. Additionally, she is a member of the Champions for Peace Club, a group of famous elite athletes committed to serving peace in the world through sport, created by Peace and Sport Organization.

 

Sukova earned a doctoral degree as a psychologist at Palacky University and since February 2011, she has served as vice president of the Association of Sport Psychologists.

 

Master Player Category: Thelma Coyne Long

Eligibility criteria for the Master Player Category is as follows: Competitors in the sport who have been retired for at least 20 years prior to consideration; a distinguished record of competitive achievement at the highest international level, with consideration given to integrity, sportsmanship and character.

 

Thelma Coyne Long, 94, of Sydney, Australia, had a remarkable career of more than 20 years (1935 – 1958), in which she captured a total of 19 Grand Slam tournament titles, including championships in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. In 1952, she achieved a career-best ranking of No. 7. That same year, she completed an Australian triple by sweeping the singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles at the Australian Championships.

 

In May 1941, during World War II, Long joined the Red Cross as a transport driver and worked in Melbourne, Australia. In February 1942, she joined the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) and rose to the rank of captain in April 1944. In recognition of her efforts throughout World War II, she was awarded both the Australian War Medal and Australian Service Medal for 1939 – 1945.

 

Upon her retirement, Long began coaching junior players in New South Wales. Long was inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame in 2002.

 

Contributor Category: Cliff Drysdale, Charlie Pasarell, Ion Tiriac

Eligibility criteria for the Contributor Category is as follows: Exceptional contributions that have furthered the growth, reputation and character of the sport, in categories such as administration, media, coaching and officiating. Contributor candidates do not need to be retired from their activities related to the sport to be considered.

 

After a successful playing career in the 1960s and 1970s and a leadership role in the launch of the ATP, Cliff Drysdale turned his attention to tennis broadcasting, and for more than thirty years, he has been one of the most respected and appreciated voices of the sport. Drysdale, 71, has been on the air with ESPN since the network’s very first tennis telecast- a Davis Cup match between the United States and Argentina on September 14, 1979, just one week after ESPN’s debut. In the thirty-plus years since, Drysdale has called all four Grand Slam tournaments and countless important moments in tennis history. Known for his insightful analysis and engaging delivery, Drysdale was named “Best Tennis Announcer” by the readers of Tennis magazine four times. In addition to his television coverage, Drysdale has been regular contributor to Tennis magazine for more than 15 years. He has played an integral role in sharing the greatest stories of tennis, and has been an influential ambassador for the sport.

 

Drysdale was a member of the original “Handsome Eight” of World Championship Tennis, the tour that laid the groundwork for a viable men’s professional tennis tour, and he was one of the world’s top players at the dawn of the Open Era. With his contemporaries, he was a co-founder of the ATP, which was developed to give players a unified voice and in structuring the professional game for the Open Era. Drysdale served as the organization’s first president, in 1972 – 1973.

 

Originally from South Africa, but now a United States citizen, Drysdale was ranked in the year-end world top-10 six times and achieved a career high ranking of world No. 4. Drysdale was a finalist at the U.S. Nationals in 1965, and he won the US Open doubles title in 1975 with Roger Taylor. He won 35 singles titles and 24 doubles titles, and during his career he notched wins against some of the greatest champions of the sport including Rod Laver, Stan Smith, Arthur Ashe, and Ilie Nastase. He was a member of the South African Davis Cup team for eight years.

 

Today, in addition to his media work, Drysdale continues to take an active role in working to grow interest in the sport. Through his tennis management company, Cliff Drysdale Management, he works with tennis clubs and resorts on tennis programming development, operations, and tennis education programs.

 

Charlie Pasarell, 68, is most recently best known as the past tournament director, managing partner, and former owner of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., but his contributions as a tennis industry leader have spanned all levels of the sport and have been a driving force in the growth of the tennis for more than forty years. Before assuming the leadership role of the Indian Wells event in 1981, Pasarell had already launched the National Junior Tennis League, which is dedicated to offering tennis programming to underprivileged children, and with fellow nominee Cliff Drysdale, he was a co-founder of the ATP.

 

Pasarell’s leadership activities were preceded by a successful playing career in which he achieved the No. 1 ranking in the United States in 1967. He was a member of the United States Davis Cup team for five years, including the championship team in 1968. Pasarell won 18 singles titles, including the U.S. National Indoor Championships in 1966 and 1967. Also in 1966, he was the NCAA Singles and Doubles champion, playing for UCLA. Originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Pasarell has been a longtime resident of California.

 

A focus of Pasarell’s tennis career has always been finding ways to utilize the game to give back to the community. At the height of his playing career, in 1969, Pasarell partnered with Arthur Ashe and Sheriden Snyder to launch the National Junior Tennis League. The goal of the organization was to have a positive impact on at-risk children by introducing them to tennis to keep them off the streets and to encourage them to stay in school. Today, the program continues to be the largest grassroots tennis program in the United Sates, with more than 950 chapters. Many NJTL students have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, business leaders, and even a few professional tennis players.

 

In 1971, as tennis was in the pivotal transition to the Open Era, Pasarell and a group of his fellow players founded the ATP, with the goal of giving players a voice in the structuring the new professional game. Over the years, Pasarell has remained highly active in the leadership of the organization and the development of men’s pro tennis. He served as an active board member in the critical early years, from 1971 – 1978. When the Men’s International Professional Tennis Circuit became the ruling body of men’s tennis from 1986 – 1990, Pasarell served as a tournament representative on the board. When the new ATP World Tour replaced that organization in 1990, Pasarell was once again elected by the tournaments to serve as their representative, and he was re-elected to the position every year for 20 consecutive years, until he retired in 2010.

 

In 1981, Pasarell took over as tournament director of the ATP World Tour event in the Coachella Valley of California. At the time, the event was struggling and in danger of being removed from the region. Over the past 30 years, under Pasarell’s leadership, the event has grown to be the largest two-week combined ATP and WTA tennis tournament in the world and the most well-attended tennis event after the four Grand Slam events. The tournament has grown from 30,000 fans to attracting more than 370,000 fans, and it has gone from a television broadcast reaching 25 million homes to more than one billion homes worldwide. The growth has necessitated new, state-of-the-art tennis facilities, taking the venue from a 7,500-seat stadium court to a 24-court, 54-acre complex including a 16,100-seat main stadium, seven smaller stadiums, and 44 luxury suites.

 

After more than 30 years working on the event, Pasarell announced his departure from the BNP Paribas Open earlier this year, following another outstanding event that welcomed more than 370,000 fans and broke attendance records for the sixth year in a row.

 

A successful doubles player turned tennis power broker, Ion Tiriac, 73, has been an influential tennis leader in roles ranging from coach to player manager to tournament promoter. Raised in communist Romania, Tiriac explored an array of sports before discovering his greatest potential and opportunity in tennis. Today, he is the promoter of two successful ATP World Tour events and is ranked among the top-1,000 wealthiest people in the world by Forbes magazine.

 

In the 1970s, Tiriac and fellow Romanian Ilie Nastase partnered to form a successful doubles team. Tiriac took on a mentor type role in the partnership, and parlayed that experience into a successful career in tennis administration. Tiriac took a sharp, business-like approach to tennis and he worked tirelessly to promote the players, grow the tournaments, build up television broadcasts, and to grow the sport overall.

 

He went on to manage the careers of top players including Guillermo Vilas, Mary Joe Fernandez, Goran Ivanisevic, and most notably, Boris Becker, who won five Grand Slam titles while working with Tiriac.

 

In addition, Tiriac was a promoter and tournament director for numerous events including the ATP World Tour’s season-ending Masters Grand Prix, and two of the largest Masters 1000 events, the Italian Open and the Madrid Masters. He is still an active leader on the Madrid Masters, and under his leadership the tournament has grown immensely, and is one of the most well attended annual events in Spain. In addition, he continues to promote tennis in his home country of Romania and is the owner/promoter of the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy, an ATP World Tour 250 event held annually in Bucharest.

 

As a player, Tiriac was an instrumental part of Romania’s Davis Cup team, competing for 15 years, and helping the team advance to the finals three times. In 1970, he partnered with Nastase to win the French Open doubles title.

 

Known for his no-nonsense demeanor, beneath Tiriac’s tough shell lies the heart of a philanthropist and the vision and ability to make positive changes. In addition to his tennis work, since the fall of the communist government in Romania in 1989, he has worked to rebuild the country’s economic and social infrastructure, developing business in banking, real estate, and other ventures. In his hometown of Brasov, he built four orphanages. When the orphanages became obsolete years later, he turned them into retirement communities for the elderly. In addition, he has developed numerous scholarship opportunities for young people.

 

Tiriac is an Honorary President of the Romanian National Olympic Committee and a Honorary President of the Romanian Tennis Federation.

 

For additional information about the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, please visit tennisfame.com

 

 

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About the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum

Established in 1954, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving the history of tennis, inspiring and encouraging junior tennis development, providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide, and enshrining tennis heroes and heroines with the highest honor in the sport of tennis- induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.  In 1986, the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis, officially recognized the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum as the sport’s official Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is located in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on a six-acre property that features an extensive Museum chronicling the history of the sport and honoring the 225 Hall of Famers; 13 grass tennis courts and an indoor tennis facility that are open to the public and to a club membership; a rare Court Tennis facility; and an historic 297-seat theatre. Annually in July, the venue hosts the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships for the Van Alen Cup, an ATP World Tour event. The buildings and grounds, which were constructed in 1880 by McKim, Mead & White to serve as a social club for Newport’s summer residents, are renowned for their incredible architecture and preservation. The facility was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is supported by Official Partners including BNP Paribas, Campbell Soup Company, Chubb Personal Insurance, Kia Motors and Rolex Watch USA. For information on the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and its programs, call 401-849-3990 or visit us online at www.tennisfame.com.

BBC to be honored for commitment to tennis at The Legends Ball

NEWPORT, R.I., September 6, 2012 – With US Open finals weekend just around the corner, so is The Legends Ball, the annual gala celebration of tennis hosted by the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. The event will gather hundreds of tennis enthusiasts, industry leaders, and stars of the sport, including recent retiree Kim Clijsters and legends like Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Pam Shriver, Stan Smith, and more, at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York. The Legends Ball will pay tribute to the International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2012- Jennifer Capriati, Gustavo Kuerten, Manuel Orantes, Mike Davies, and Randy Snow, and it will recognize one individual and one organization that have shown an exceptional commitment to the growth of the sport. The Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Award, which is presented to an organization, will be awarded to the BBC, which has delivered an outstanding year of tennis coverage, including Wimbledon and the London 2012 Olympic Games, and is in their 85th year of covering the sport. BBC Sport’s tennis correspondent Jonathan Overend will be at the event to accept the award. It was previously announced that the other award of the evening, the Eugene L. Scott Award, will be awarded to Chris Evert and presented by Billie Jean King.

 

The Cullman Award is given in honor of the man who served as president and chairman of the Hall of Fame from 1982-1988, and recognizes an exceptional company that shares Cullman’s enthusiasm for tennis and has also made a significant contribution to society at large- both philanthropically and through outstanding generosity of spirit.

 

“The BBC has been a dedicated broadcast partner to the sport of tennis for a remarkable 85 years. In recent months they’ve delivered extraordinary coverage of Wimbledon, as well as some of the most exciting Olympic tennis the world has ever experienced. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum’s Legends Ball is an opportunity to pay tribute to the outstanding contributors to the sport of tennis who have played an instrumental role in its growth. We are so pleased to present the Cullman Award to the BBC to say thank you for all they’ve done to spread tennis news and deliver its most important moments to the fans,” said Christopher E. Clouser, chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum.

 

The BBC brought tennis to the airwaves of Great Britain in 1927, with the first radio coverage of Wimbledon. This contract with the All England Lawn Tennis Club continues today- making it the longest running multiplatform rights contract in world sport.

 

The BBC has always strived to bring technological innovation to tennis- the first ever live television coverage of a sports event (1937), first color TV broadcast (1967), first use of Hawkeye in tennis, first multi-platform coverage, and in 2011, the first ever 3D transmission on the BBC. As host broadcaster at Wimbledon, the BBC currently brings live coverage of the event from nine courts, producing over 900 hours of tennis coverage distributed to 160 countries. Over the years, many great voices of the sport have delivered BBC’s coverage, including Dan Maskell, “The Voice of Tennis” for BBC from 1949 -1991, John Barratt, Bill Threlfall, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Bjorn Borg, and Jimmy Connors. Today’s team is led by Sue Barker and includes John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Lindsay Davenport, Virginia Wade, Tracy Austin, John Lloyd, Pat Cash, and Tim Henman.

 

As well as Wimbledon, the BBC covered many World Championship Tennis tour events throughout the 1970’s, and has been the host broadcaster for Olympic tennis from Atlanta, Athens, and London, with live coverage everyday from the 2012 Olympics. Over the years the BBC has covered all the Grand Slams with many years at the French and Australian Opens. Additional tennis coverage has included annual tournaments such as Queens, Eastbourne, and Bournemouth, as well as Davis Cup, Wightman Cup, the ATP World Tour Finals, and the Masters events from The Royal Albert Hall.

 

Today’s multi-platform coverage includes the Wimbledon Championships, as well as the Australian Open Finals, the Barclay’s ATP World Tour Finals, and the AEGON Championshpis at Queen’s Club on television. BBC Radio 5 Live has commentary from all four Grand Slams, all the key ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, and Wimbledon warm-up events, plus key Davis Cup and Fed Cup ties. News and reports throughout the year across BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC news channel, and BBC sport online round out the tennis coverage.
Previous recipients of the Cullman Award have been: BNP Paribas (2006); Rolex Watch U.S.A., Inc. (2007); Sony Ericsson (2008); Tennis Channel (2009); Mercedes-Benz (2010); and Campbell Soup Company (2011).

 

An impressive collection of tennis greats will be in attendance at the Legends Ball, including current players, Hall of Famers, executive leaders from the ATP World Tour, WTA, ITF, and Grand Slam tournaments and tennis fans from around the world. In celebration of their Hall of Fame Induction, which occurred in July, speaking programs and video presentations will pay tribute to former world No. 1’s Jennifer Capriati and Gustavo Kuerten, Spanish tennis great Manuel Orantes, tennis industry innovator and promoter Mike Davies, and the late wheelchair tennis champion, Randy Snow.

 

Always a highlight of the evening, The Legends Ball silent auction will feature an array of exclusive experiences and luxury items that will excite tennis fans and non-tennis fans alike. Among the items up for bid are exclusive tickets for the finals of all four tennis majors in 2013, luxurious vacation packages to the Caribbean and Europe, tennis camps for juniors and adults, including a week of instruction at esteemed academies like the Chris Evert Tennis Academy and Ivan Lendl’s International Junior Tennis Academy, and exclusive tickets to events including the Grammy Awards and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

 

Proceeds of The Legends Ball, which has been held annually since 1980, will benefit the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and support the mission of preserving the history of the game, honoring the legends and inspiring the future.

 

For tickets, sponsorship opportunities, or to learn more about The Legends Ball, call 401-849-3990 or email mforts@tennisfame.com.

 

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About the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum

Established in 1954, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving the history of tennis, inspiring and encouraging junior tennis development, enshrining tennis heroes and heroines, and providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum was recognized as the sport’s official Hall of Fame in 1986 by the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis. The Hall of Fame is located in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on a six-acre property that features an extensive Museum chronicling the history of the sport and honoring the 225 Hall of Famers; 13 grass tennis courts and an indoor tennis facility that are open to the public and to a club membership; a rare Court Tennis facility; and an historic 297-seat theatre. Annually in July, the venue hosts the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships for the Van Alen Cup, an ATP World Tour event. The buildings and grounds, which were constructed in 1880 by McKim, Mead & White to serve as a social club for Newport’s summer residents, are renowned for their incredible architecture and preservation. The facility was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is supported by Official Partners including BNP Paribas, Chubb Personal Insurance, Kia Motors and Rolex Watch USA. For information on the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and its programs, call 401-849-3990 or visit us online at www.tennisfame.com.

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI REGAINS WTA WORLD NO.1 RANKING

DUBAI – By reaching the semifinals at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Caroline Wozniacki will return to the top of the WTA Rankings on Monday, February 21, 2011.  Wozniacki will surpass the current WTA World No.1 Kim Clijsters who ascended to the top of the rankings last week for the fourth time in her career.  Wozniacki is projected to hold the top spot for at least four weeks through March 20, 2011.  In addition to finishing the 2010 season as the World No.1 ranked player, she held the top ranking for a total of 18 consecutive weeks prior to being overtaken by Clijsters.

Only the 10th player to end the season as the World No.1 since the WTA ranking system was introduced in 1975, Wozniacki became the first player from Denmark to reach the top ranking.  Wozniacki had a career-best season in 2010, capturing a WTA-leading six titles including the China Open (Beijing), the Toray Pan Pacific Open (Tokyo), and the Rogers Cup (Montreal).  She also won the MPS Group Championships (Ponte Vedra Beach), the e-Boks Sony Ericsson Open, the Pilot Pen Tennis at Yale (New Haven) and reached the final of the year-end WTA Championships, falling to Clijsters in three sets.  Playing her first Grand Slam as a World No.1, Wozniacki reached the semifinals of the Australian Open earlier this year, losing to China’s Li Na.

TOTAL WEEKS AT WTA WORLD NO.1

PLAYER DATE REACHED No.1 WEEKS*
Steffi Graf (GER) August 17, 1987 377
Martina Navratilova (TCH/USA) July 10, 1978 332
Chris Evert (USA) November 3, 1975 260
Martina Hingis (SUI) March 31, 1997 209
Monica Seles (YUG/USA) March 11, 1991 178
Serena Williams (USA) July 8, 2002 123
Justine Henin (BEL) October 20, 2003 117
Lindsay Davenport (USA) October 12, 1998 98
Amélie Mauresmo (FRA) September 13, 2004 39
Dinara Safina (RUS) April 20, 2009 26
Tracy Austin (USA) April 7, 1980 21
Kim Clijsters (BEL) August 11, 2003 20
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) October 11, 2010 19
Jelena Jankovic (SRB) August 11, 2008 18
Jennifer Capriati (USA) October 15, 2001 17
Maria Sharapova (RUS) August 22, 2005 17
Ana Ivanovic (SRB) June 9, 2008 12
Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario (ESP) February 6, 1995 12
Venus Williams (USA) February 25, 2002 11
Evonne Goolagong (AUS) April 26, 1976 2

Chart as of February 21, 2011 / * Total weeks at No.1; can be non-consecutive

Clijsters Becomes An Open Dynasty With Her Third Title

Daughter Jada sat in the stands playfully pulling designer watches up her right wrist as if they were toy bracelets. On the court below, Jada’s famous mother, sporting the same blond haystack hairstyle, turned the title match into child’s play in issuing a tennis time-out to Vera Zvonareva. Playing with the speed of a dutiful mom determined to get her daughter home for bed time, Kim Clijsters crushed Zvonareva, 6-2, 6-1 to capture her third US Open championship.

It was the most lopsided women’s final since Chris Evert dismantled Evonne Goolagong, 6-3, 6-0, in the 1976 final and the shortest women’s final since the USTA has timed title matches (in some pre-Open Era years players did not sit down on changeovers, resulting in finals that lasted less than an hour).

“A little bit of experience definitely helps,” said Clijsters, who collected the $1.7 champion’s check plus a $500,000 bonus for finishing second in the US Open Series to Caroline Wozniacki, the woman she defeated in the 2009 final. “Last year was a lot more confusing not having played for so long. So it was kind of different emotions starting to the tournament. I was able to play, especially in my last two matches, at my highest level. Obviously you want to do well at the places you’ve done well before. I know if I played well and if I’m healthy I can beat any of the top players.”

The second-seeded Belgian stretched her US Open winning streak to 21 matches, successfully defending her Flushing Meadows championship in dispensing her most comprehensive conquest of the tournament.

Give Clijsters 60 minutes (the official match time was 59 minutes) and she’ll give you a major title. Clijsters completely overpowered and overwhelmed Zvonareva, who was helpless to slow a woman playing at the peak of her powers, and sobbed into her towel after the match. Zvonareva’s eyes still glistened with tears as she spoke to the crowd following her second straight Grand Slam final loss.

“(I’m doing) a little bit better right now than 10 minutes ago when I was losing everything,” Zvonareva said in bringing some levity to a humbling defeat. “Kim just played tremendously well today and she deserved to win. Even though I’m disappointed at the moment, I still love New York.”

Zvonareva beat Clijsters in their last two meetings, scoring a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 win in the Wimbledon quarterfinals and registering a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory in the Montreal quarterfinals last month. The Wimbledon loss was particularly painful because it came after Clijsters defeated arch rival Justine Henin and appeared to be on course for a climactic clash with Serena Williams.

“I knew getting into the match which things were that I didn’t do well in the matches I lost,” Clijsters said. “Obviously the one at Wimbledon was, to me one of the most disappointing losses that I’ve dealt with so far in my career.”

Clijsters tried to overpower Zvonareva in those losses, this time she varied the height, speed and spin on her shots and applied relentless pressure with her fast feet and sliding, skidding splits.

“She’s the type of player who is consistent and likes the pace and likes to take over the pace from opponents,” Clijsters said. “I think today I was able to just mix it up well and just stay calm during the rally as well. Just put enough pressure and variety in there to throw up some high balls here and there. I think that just got her thinking even more just besides the fact that she was probably thinking about the occasion where she was playing and being in another final, which is always something that does have an effect on the way you feel, obviously.”

Still, the seventh-seeded Russian got off to a solid start and played Clijsters on even terms through the first four games in forging a 2-all tie. Then the blowout began.

Clijsters found the sweet spot on her Babolat and began to blister the ball with such confidence the shots flowed like all the right answers on a standardized tests. Zvonareva plays a similar style to Clijsters, but the former World No. 1 is bigger, stronger, more athletic and does everything a bit better.

Clijsters held for 3-2 to ignite an imposing run that saw her reel off seven straight games and effectively put the match out of reach.

“Physically today she was just much better than me,” Zvonareva said. “Physically, i was not capable of playing the same level as I was able to play yesterday….I tried my best out there. I gave 100%. I was not able to hang in there physically. Hopefully, I will have another chance.”

Characteristically classy, Clijsters took time out to console Zvonareva before raising the shiny silver US Open title trophy. Clijsters, who dropped her first four major finals, is the only woman in Open Era history to lose her first four Grand Slam finals before winning one. She put that experience to good use in offering encouraging words to Zvonareva immediately after the match.

“I think she’s a great person and she really knows how to be in those situations,” Zvonareva said. “When she gives such support, it’s great from her. She’s a great champion, but also a great person. Maybe because she said that maybe I’m not so disappointed right now.”

It was such a thorough thrashing coming in the aftermath of the Novak Djokovic’s dramatic five-set semifinal victory over five-time US Open champion Roger Federer, Clijsters sounded slightly chagrined by the result that sent the masses, who had waited anxiously for the men’s semifinal to end, streaming for the masses.

The 27-year-old Clijsters is the first woman since Venus Williams in 2001 to successfully defend the US Open championship and is the first woman to win three US Open titles in three consecutive appearances since Hall of Famer Chris Evert, who was in  Arthur Ashe Stadium tonight, won four straight US Open crowns from 1975 to 78.

Clijsters, husband Brian Lynch, a former Villanova basketball star, and their daughter Jada call New Jersey home for several weeks each summer. The Belgian-born Jersey girl has dominated the largest Grand Slam stage in the world as if it’s her own Garden State backyard.

When Clijsters beat Mary Pierce in the 2005 US Open final,  to claim her first career Grand Slam title, she capped a commanding hard-court season in which she posted a 36-1 record on North American hard courts.

Returning to New York as a wild card last summer, she beat both Venus Williams and Serena Williams en route to the final before sweeping Caroline Wozniacki to capture the 2009 Open crown.

In the aftermath of that match, daughter Jada captured the hearts of fans playfully tugging at her mother’s leg and pulling off the top of the silver title trophy as if it were part of her toy collection. Mother and daughter embraced again tonight and in the post-match interview Clijsters, who has already walked away from the game once and is well aware of how small the window of opportunity can be for champions, spoke about her desire to collect another major.

Widely respected for both her grace and game, Clijsters has become an adopted citizen of all four Grand Slam host cities. Formerly engaged to Lleyton Hewitt, she is revered as an honorary Aussie in Melbourne where some fans still call her “Aussie Kim”. She reached her first Grand Slam final at the 2001 French Open, falling to Jennifer Capriati, 12-10, in the third set and with Belgium bordering France she remains a popular presence in Paris. Clijsters is so well respected at Wimbledon, the only major where she’s yet to reach a final, the All England Club invited her to join Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf and Tim Henman to play the roof raising exhibition event in May of 2009.

“They all motivate you in a different way, obviously,” Clijsters said. “Tactic-wise you always have to adjust a little bit to each and every single one of them. But I think the one where I’ve felt I can do better than I have is obviously the Australian Open. Similar surface. They’ve gone away from the Rebound Ace in the last couple of years. So I’ve always enjoyed playing there. That’s obviously a Grand Slam I want to do well. I want to do well in all of them, of course.”

Daughter Jada is two-and-half years old now and Clijsters says she wants to have more children in the coming years so the watch on her daughter’s wrist is a reminder the career clock is ticking down.

“I would like to keep it going until the (2012) Olympics,” Clijsters said. “But then again, you never know what can happen. My main goal is to try and just stay injury free. if I can do that and if I can practice hard and work hard obviously the Grand Slams will always  be my focus. So now that I’m playing well obviously I’m not going to just give it up. I just want to keep it up.”

Clijsters made quick work of Zvonareva tonight and plans to make the most of her time in achieving her aim of taking these successful New York Nights on the road and winning another Grand Slam title.

“I will try everything that I can to be in the best shape possible to try to achieve what I achieved here,” said Clijsters, who then worked her way toward the door to take care of another important obligation: putting Jada to bed.

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

Defending Champion Serena Williams Captures 4th Wimbledon Title and 13th Grand Slam

[CHICAGO] – Serena Williams made her presence known as she defended her Wimbledon title to Vera Zvonareva of Russia during the final match on Saturday.

The match was all about Serena’s well known power game as she defeated Zvonareva in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2. “It feels incredible to defend my title here at Wimbledon,” Serena said after her victory. “Vera is such a great competitor but I knew that if I stuck to my game, I had a good chance of winning.”

With her [K] Blade Team racket, the 13 time Grand Slam champion held strong throughout the entire tournament and did not drop a set over two weeks at the All England Club. Serena knows that her powerful serve gives her an advantage on any opponent and hit 9 aces Saturday, taking her tournament total to a Wimbledon record- 89.

This title gives Serena her 4th Wimbledon in the span of eight years and her 13th Grand Slam overall. She is back at world No.1 and certain to stay at the top, where she has reigned for 110 weeks altogether. Serena currently stands as world No.1 at both singles and doubles, only the sixth woman in history to do so.

With this 13th title, Serena surpasses Billie Jean King’s 12 Grand Slam title record, and Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova are Williams’ next goal, with 18 majors each. “Honestly, I’m just doing what I can and working hard,” Williams said. “These great champions give me the motivation to reach my goals.”

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Ashe Ceremony Moved to Sunday

Because of the threat of rain, the ceremony to induct Arthur Ashe into the Wall of Fame has been postponed until Sunday. It will take place before the Men’s Finals. President Bill Clinton, who was supposed to attend tonight will now be at the event on Sunday.

Here’s the original release:

FLUSHING, N.Y., September 7, 2009 – The USTA announced today that Arthur Ashe, the first African American US Open men’s singles champion and one of tennis’ greatest ambassadors, has been named the 2009 inductee into the US Open Court of Champions, a US Open and USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center attraction honoring the greatest singles champions in the history of the 128 years of the U.S. Championships/US Open.  Ashe will be inducted during a ceremony on Thursday evening, September 10, and President Bill Clinton will participate in a tribute to this tennis icon and humanitarian, to be broadcast live on ESPN2.

The US Open Court of Champions salutes the tournament’s all-time greatest champions with an individual permanent monument that serves as a lasting tribute. Ashe will join prior inductees Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Jimmy Connors, Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Althea Gibson, Steffi Graf, Billie Jean King, Jack Kramer, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, Molla Bjurstedt Mallory, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Bill Tilden and Helen Wills. A panel of international print and broadcast journalists selected the 2009 inductee from the roster of U.S. champions based on their performances at the tournament and their impact on the growth of the event.

“Arthur Ashe is one of the greatest champions to ever compete at the US Open and we are proud to honor his remarkable legacy,” said Lucy Garvin, Chairman of the Board and President, USTA.  “Arthur was a great humanitarian and his legacy and his performance helped the tournament become one of the world’s premier sporting events.”

Following his tenure in the White House, President Clinton established the William J. Clinton Foundation with the mission to strengthen the capacity of people in the United States and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence.  The Foundation has grown into a global 501(c)(3) nongovernmental organization with 1,400 staff and volunteers in more than 40 countries working to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic, fight climate change, develop sustainable economic growth in Africa and Latin America, tackle the childhood obesity epidemic, and help expand economic opportunity.

The Clinton Global Initiative, established by President Clinton in 2005, has brought together more than 100 current and former heads of state; 14 Nobel Peach Prize winners; hundreds of leading global CEO’s, heads of foundations, and major philanthropists; and directors of the most effective nongovernmental organizations to identify and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.  CGI’s Fifth Annual Meeting will take place September 22-25, 2009 in New York City.

Ashe was the US Open singles champion in 1968, and reached the final again in 1972.  In his career, he captured 33 singles titles and 18 doubles titles, including three Grand Slam championships. Prior to that, he was the first African-American to win the NCAA singles title (for UCLA in 1965), and he represented the United States in the Davis Cup every year from 1965 to 1970, helping his country to the title from 1968 to 1970. Ashe also worked extensively off the court to end poverty and racism worldwide. In 1969, Ashe founded the USTA National Junior Tennis League, now the National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) network. Ashe envisioned NJTL as a way of developing the character of young people through tennis and education. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, NJTL has grown to more than 550 chapters nationwide, serving more than 220,000 youths each year. It has become one of USTA’s largest community- based offerings.

The US Open Court of Champions, a 9,000-square foot outdoor pavilion bounded by the South Entry Gate and the Arthur Ashe Commemorative Garden and Sculpture, celebrates the event’s greatest champions with an individual permanent monument to serve as a lasting tribute.  The attraction also features a complete listing of all U.S. singles champions since the competition began in 1881.

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The USTA is the national governing body for the sport of tennis in the U.S. and the leader in promoting and developing the growth of tennis at every level — from local communities to the highest level of the professional game.  A not-for-profit organization with 730,000 members, it invests 100% of its proceeds in growing the game. It owns and operates the US Open, the highest attended annual sporting event in the world, and launched the Olympus US Open Series linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open. In addition, it owns the 94 Pro Circuit events throughout the U.S., is a minority owner and promotional partner of World TeamTennis, and selects the teams for the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympic and Paralympic Games. The USTA philanthropic entity, USTA Serves, provides grants and scholarships and through tennis, helps underserved youth and people with disabilities to improve academics, build character and strive for excellence. For more information on the USTA, log on to usta.com.