NEWPORT, R.I., USA, January 27, 2011 – Fern Lee “Peachy” Kellmeyer, who was the very first employee and director of the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) in 1973 and still serves the organization today, has been elected for induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Christopher E. Clouser, chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum announced Kellmeyer’s induction today at a WTA Alumnae & Friends Reunion at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia.
Kellmeyer is the sole 2011 inductee in the Contributor Category. She joins Recent Player inductee Andre Agassi, whose induction was announced last week. Together, Kellmeyer and Agassi will be the International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2011. The Class of 2011 Induction Ceremony will be held on July 9, 2011 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, R.I. The Ceremony will be held in conjunction with the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour event.
“Professional women’s tennis players, young female athletes and the sports world in general should be grateful that Peachy Kellmeyer chose to apply her dedication and leadership skills to women’s tennis, because her tireless work has played a critical role in the growth of the game and in improving rights for female athletes across all sports,” said Christopher E. Clouser, chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. “We are delighted to honor Peachy for her contributions to tennis with induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.”
Kellmeyer, 66, of Wheeling, West Virginia, became involved in the game as a talented junior player, went on to be a star collegiate athlete, and then launched an administrative career in tennis. During her career with the WTA, Kellmeyer has led the WTA’s operations, player and tournament relations and has been at the center of all major policy decisions. Kellmeyer currently serves as WTA Operations Executive Consultant. She is also a member of the ITF Fed Cup Committee and oversees the WTA’s alumni program to ensure that past players and tournament directors remain engaged with the WTA that they helped build.
“This is a tremendous honor, and I’m so grateful for the recognition. I am particularly pleased to have been able to celebrate the news of my induction surrounded by many of my close friends in the WTA Alumnae & Friends Association who have shared the vision and worked with me to grow women’s tennis around the globe,” said Kellmeyer. “From playing opportunities to prize money, to interest in the game, we’ve all worked very hard to reach the positive position that women’s tennis is in today. I’ve been fortunate to have truly loved my work all my life, and it’s a real joy to see that my efforts have positively impacted women.”
During Kellmeyer’s tenure, prize money on the WTA has increased from $309,000 in 1973 to more than $86,000,000 in 2010, and the number of WTA events has increased from 23 domestic tournaments to 53 events in 33 different countries. Attendance at WTA events has increased dramatically with nearly 5 million in-stadium fans annually, and television exposure has increased with hundreds of millions of homes receiving more than 6,000 hours of international TV coverage on an annual basis.
Simultaneously with her efforts to build women’s tennis, Kellmeyer has been a tireless fighter for women’s rights in sports. When she was the Physical Education Director at Marymount College in Boca Raton, Florida in 1966, Kellmeyer spear-headed a lawsuit that ultimately led to the dismantling of a National Education Association rule that had prohibited athletic scholarships being awarded to female athletes at colleges across the nation. The landmark case paved the way for Title IX and contributed greatly to the increase of female athletes in intercollegiate athletics. Additionally, Kellmeyer was a driving force behind the WTA’s campaign to achieve equal prize money for women. In 2009 she was honored with the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Golden Achievement Award for her important contributions to tennis in the field of administration and long outstanding service to the sport.
On court, Kellmeyer began winning junior titles as early as age 11. By the age of 15 she was competing at what is now the US Open, and she was the youngest player at the time to be invited to such a prestigious event. She went on to be a tennis star at the University of Miami, where she became the first woman to compete on a Division I men’s team. As an adult, Kellmeyer was ranked nationally in both singles and doubles, and was a competitor at Wimbledon and the US Open.
Located in Newport, Rhode Island, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has inducted 219 of the greatest players and contributors to the sport since 1955. Inductees are honored in one of three categories – Recent Player, Master Player and Contributor. In recognition for her immense contributions off the court, Kellmeyer joins the esteemed Contributor Category which includes Hall of Famers such as sports marketing pioneer and agent Donald Dell, and former player turned tennis administrator and tournament director, Butch Buchholz.
Contributor Category – Induction Eligibility
Inductees to the International Tennis Hall of Fame are elected in the categories of Recent Player, Master Player and Contributor. To be eligible for Hall of Fame induction in the Contributor category, the individual must have made exceptional contributions that have furthered the growth, reputation and character of tennis, 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.
Induction Voting Process
International Tennis Hall of Fame President and 1970 Hall of Famer Tony Trabert serves as Chair of the Enshrinee Nominating Committee. Annually, the Committee develops the Hall of Fame induction ballot, based on nominations submitted by the public. The ballot is then put to vote by the International Media Panel or the International Masters Panel, depending on the category. The Contributor category, in which Kellmeyer was elected, is voted on by the International Masters Panel, which consists of Hall of Fame inductees and individuals who are highly knowledgeable of the sport and its history. To be inducted as a Contributor, an affirmative vote of 75% is required.
The 2011 Induction Ceremony will be held in conjunction with the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour event. Tickets for the Induction Ceremony and its surrounding events are limited. Custom sponsorship and hospitality packages are available. In addition, the International Tennis Hall of Fame is developing additional events and programs to complement the Induction Ceremony and allow as many fans as possible to be part of the celebration. Individuals looking for additional information should call 866-914-FAME (3263) and/or visit www.tennisfame.com.
To learn more about the Class of 2011 Induction Ceremony or about the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, please visit tennisfame.com or call 401-849-3990.
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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 218 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 Campbell’s 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.