home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


July 16, 2016

Justine Henin

Amelie Mauresmo

Marat Safin

Stan Smith

Newport, Rhode Island

STAN SMITH: Good morning, everyone. I'm Stan Smith, president of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. I'd like to thank you for joining us at this Rolex Induction Weekend.
It's a pleasure to be here to celebrate some of the great players of all time.
In fact, before I start, it's amazing to me, the more I think about it, all the great players of all time, starting from the very beginning, we've finally inducted the last sort of older player from the '20s and '30s that we've had over the years. Everybody now, all the great players, are in the Hall of Fame. It makes it very special.
We're here today to welcome the class of 2016. I'd like to have Justine Henin, Marat Safin, and from the class of '15, Amelie Mauresmo, please come forward.
I'd first like to extend our appreciation for Rolex again for making this weekend so special. They're not only the official timepiece of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, but they have a long history of supporting the game on every level.
We're also grateful for the partnership in creating this wonderful weekend to celebrate these players.
The inductees have distinguished records of competitive achievements at the highest international level, and demonstrated passion, integrity and sportsmanship for the game.
Belgium's tennis great Justine Henin is the first person from her home country of Belgium to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Undisputedly, one of the game's greatest of all times, Justine has an incredible tennis résumé: 43 singles titles, seven Grand Slam singles titles, an Olympic gold medal in 2004, Fed Cup champion, and WTA year‑end No.1 just three times.
An exceptional all‑around player. The precision of Justine's one‑handed backhand was a shot that many male and female players would love to emulate. I certainly was one of those.
Since retirement, Justine's many ventures includes running a tennis academy in Belgium, as well as the foundation providing medical needs for children. She also has recently started coaching some top WTA players.
Today, Monica Seles will be presenting her in the induction ceremony.
Like Justine, Marat Safin is the first‑ever Hall of Famer inductee from his home country of Russia. He was a two‑time Grand Slam singles champion, having won the US Open in 2000 and the Australian Open in 2005. Marat defeated American Pete Sampras at the US Open in 2000.
MARAT SAFIN: It was a mistake, I know (laughter).
STAN SMITH: It was in three sets.
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, it was a mistake, I tell you. Big mistake (laughter).
STAN SMITH: He demonstrated his great power and athleticism in beating Pete. Pete calling him the tennis of the future.
In 2005 he won the Australian Open. He captured his second major by defeating Lleyton Hewitt in the final and taking down world No.1 Roger Federer in five sets en route.
He was ranked No. 1 in the world for nine weeks, was in the top five for 119 weeks and won 15 singles titles, including five ATP Masters Series tournaments.
Marat was a dedicated Davis Cup player for Russia, leading them to two championships. He's kept busy since retirement, he's been elected to the Russian parliament.
MARAT SAFIN: Another mistake (laughter).
STAN SMITH: And he continues to serve today.
Jimmy Connors has asked to actually present Marat in this induction ceremony.
It's a pleasure to welcome our 2015 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee, Amelie Mauresmo. Amelie has been a Hall of Famer for a year, but she was unable to be here last year, and she had a very good reason: the birth of her son who is about to celebrate his first birthday.
What is his birthday?
STAN SMITH: In 2004, Mauresmo became the first French woman in history to reach the No.1 ranking, that year was a semifinalist at Wimbledon, quarterfinalist at Australian, the French and US Open. Over her career, she was among the top five for 191 weeks.
In 2006, Amelie was a two‑time Grand Slam tournament champion, winning both the Australian and Wimbledon.
She was a member of the 2003 championship Fed Cup team. Amelie has stayed very active in tennis since retiring coaching top players and currently serving as the Fed Cup captain for France, and also leading the team to the final in November.
MARAT SAFIN: Coaching a men's tennis player, that is the biggest one.
STAN SMITH: She coached Andy Murray, which we all know about. Amelie's friend Micky Lawler is going to present her in the induction ceremony.
Congratulations to all the inductees.
To get us started, I would like to have you tell us a little bit about what this honor means to you. Amelie, we'll start with you since you've had a year to think about it.
AMELIE MAURESMO: No, it's always the same words, to be honored really to be part of this. When you see the champions that are part of the Hall of Fame, it's a privilege. I never thought actually one day I would be able to achieve that. But I'm happy to finally be here, to go through the induction ceremony.
Yeah, I'm happy to have you guys next to me today to help through that.
STAN SMITH: We gave a ring to Amelie at the French this year. We had about 10 other Hall of Famers on the court. What was that like for you?
AMELIE MAURESMO: It was great. It's like a little community. You feel part of a special family that have achieved special things, I guess. It was already quite emotional there for me. Yeah, it's such a great honor, privilege.
STAN SMITH: Just before you all came out, I mentioned the fact that all the greatest players that have ever played the game are part of this Hall of Fame.
Justine, what do you think about today?
JUSTINE HENIN: I wish I could start first (laughter). I guess Marat will be more original than Amelie and I probably.
Yeah, it's such a big honor. To be honest, I've never been running after the honor. Not that I don't accept it, but my nature is to be shy. Being the center of the attention is not always the best for me.
But to be honest, today is also quite emotional, not only get this honor, but also need to remember how hard was the way but how beautiful was the way from the little girl of six years old that was not that big.
It means a lot of things that I've learned in this life. Yeah, a lot of things like commitment, dedication, respect. All the people I've met during this wonderful adventure, I can bring this to my new life.
Being part of the history of the game, it's much more than I could expect for as a little girl. I'm really proud, happy.
I congratulate Amelie and Marat for being part of the history of the game also.
STAN SMITH: And Marat? You're taller than the other inductees.
MARAT SAFIN: I think every kid that comes to tennis, he doesn't understand till the end what he is doing on the court. Nobody knows the history. Nobody knows anything. It's a pity because really every single person who comes to the tennis, the younger ones, should go through the museum, to see how big is the game, how important is to keep the tradition, keep respect for the older people, carry the tradition on.
It's completely different perspective understanding what you are doing, how you are living your life. This is the part of your life that created you as a person. You start to play tennis when you are six.
MARAT SAFIN: In my case I started at the age of two months (laughter). To understand that, you really need to live with that. It's a huge part of our lives. Some go on to study, some coach, some continue in professional tennis.
This is the family, like Amelie said, it's a family, it's a huge family. All of us are brothers and sisters. We are all doing the right thing. We are making our game better, bigger and better. It's something to work on.
But it's a huge tradition, especially coming here, it's an amazing place. I was like a kid in Disneyland. This is an amazing place. You feel the power, the energy. You can see what kind of people are living here before. You have a museum, a beautiful place.
I'm really happy and I want to say thank you to every single person that participated in my professional tennis career, bad things, good things, terrible experiences. All important. Good experiences. Everything it goes, it's life. That's why I want to thank everybody, brothers and sisters from the tennis world, thank you for the ride and amazing journey we all had.
We had ups and downs, we cried, we broke the racquets, we shouted some words, we throwed the balls out of the court, we insulted the referees, only sometimes (laughter). But this is a part of our life. I'm just so pleased to be part of it. It's a huge honor to be inducted and be part of the history.
It can't be anything bigger for the players than to become a part of the museum.
STAN SMITH: When I was starting, probably the same for all of us, we didn't really think about the Hall of Fame, we just loved the game. One of the great things here is that hologram with Roger Federer. He doesn't talk about his accomplishments in the game, he talks about the 10 reasons why he loves tennis.
I think we all start out because we love the game. We're celebrating your accomplishments now today here and on the court. It really is the culmination of all the hard work you put into it over the years to make it happen.
I hope you enjoy it.
I'd like to open it up to questions here for anybody in the crowd.

Q. (No microphone.)
AMELIE MAURESMO: No, I didn't. Earlier this year I watched a few of the speeches from the past, Andre, to feel the atmosphere, how it's like, what it's going to be like. It's going to be a great moment to go through.
But I'm happy to finally discover the place, the city, the courts, the venue here. It's just incredible. So very exciting.

Q. (No microphone.)
MARAT SAFIN: What a stupid question (laughter).
Of course, sister. Unfortunately we weren't so close when we were younger. She was eight. We only saw each other in the Grand Slams. It was really a pity we didn't spend enough time together. We didn't know each other. At some point we didn't feel like brother and sister at some point because we were separated for quite some time.
So now we're having a great time. Finally I get to know her. I definitely saw she had a great potential. Too bad she couldn't make a Grand Slam winner, but she's a great person. She understands tennis more than me, times more, and she's a better person, that's for sure.
Good answer, huh?

Q. (No microphone.)
MARAT SAFIN: Well, we never won it. Two times finals, against Sweden, against States. For us to win it the first time, for tennis in Russia, it's a huge thing. Kafelnikov was there. It was easier to achieve that. We were lucky we had a little bit younger guys came afterwards and was a second time.
But the first one is the most important one. I'm really pleased it was me and Yevgeny, that Yevgeny was a part of it.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTINE HENIN: We did yesterday with Marat. We visited together, which was quite an experience with Marat's comments (laughter).
No, no, I completely agree with him, it's something we should have done earlier in our career. We don't realize how strong is the history of the game, how beautiful is the game probably until it's finished for us. It's not too late to realize that.
But it was quite intense, emotional. I probably know a little bit more of the history of the game today than yesterday before coming here. And you can feel the passion. It's not only about titles, it's about being the best, just about the emotions we can live with all together.
Yeah, it's just a great place. Very excited to show to my daughter a little later today, yeah.

Q. (No microphone.)
MARAT SAFIN: I wasn't joking (laughter).
A great surprise. I cannot tell you it's an achievement because expect that. You can't expect that. It's impossible. It's surprise. I never played such tennis like this day. It just was another level. I didn't know what was happening. I would play with the left hand, I would to beat him.
It's amazing, out of the blue, you really feel like, Wow, it's me, I'm good at it. I was lucky not to get scared before the match point because it could go the other way around very quickly, and you know that against Pete. I was very lucky.
I had one hour and a half of blast tennis and thanks God it was over. It's like this.
All the hours in the gym, all the hours on the court, all the suffering, all the satellite tournaments in southwest Spain, 120 degrees, no ballboys, no chair umpires, everybody trying to hit each other, punch each other, and you win.
STAN SMITH: It's a genteel sport.

Q. (No microphone.)
MARAT SAFIN: Oh, good question. Is very similar.

Q. (No microphone.)
MARAT SAFIN: First of all, when somebody come to me and say that, I would punch him in the face, first of all, because he would make fun of me. I would say, Be happy and go home.
It's the most difficult, I think, moment. If you remember satellites, you need to make results to get to the Masters and start the game. The first time I started playing against guys 20 years old when I was 16, they were much bigger than me, I was losing 6‑Love, 6‑1. I was losing year and a half. I realize I'm not good at this, maybe I should play chess.
After a year it starts to improve, 6‑1, 6‑2. You are a happy person because you step to another level. This is a big difference when you believe you start to have confidence, you know what you're doing.

Q. (No microphone.)
AMELIE MAURESMO: I think for me wasn't really the point on the WTA, was the titles in the juniors that made me think if I can achieve that in the juniors, winning the French and Wimbledon, finishing the year No.1, I thought, Well, why not? I'm probably not too bad. I can maybe do something good in the pros, as well.
For me that year was important because I showed myself, as Marat says, the confidence is there, and you can think about yourself in a different way. For me anyway, I started to think that that can maybe lead to something nice.
JUSTINE HENIN: Me, I don't know if I ever got the confidence at a certain point.
No, I never saw it like, okay, this is the time I feel now I can do it. I had the big picture. I wanted to be a champion in a certain way, winning big events. It was just one step at a time.
You have to face everything that is coming to you. If you have your dream and your goal, then you keep chasing it.
Yeah, maybe when I played my first Grand Slam, the French Open, I felt I was professional at that time. But from six years old, every time I was walking on the court, I was trying to win, do the best I can.
I don't know, not a lot of people were believing I could do it. When I was telling people I want to do that, they were looking at me like I was crazy because I wasn't very tall. But for me in my head it was clear. I was keeping following my dream and my goal. That how I build my career.
But I never really said, Okay, now I'm part of it. I just wanted to do the best every time I was walking on the court.
STAN SMITH: Did you have goals and at what age did you set any goals?
JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah, my first was a dream, at six years old, I wanted to win the French Open. I'm going to be introduced by Monica later. At 10 years old I went to the French Open. It was the final between Steffi and Monica. I said to my mom, One day I will be on this court and I will win. I was 10. I was getting to my bedroom, I was jumping like I was winning the French Open.
For me, I mean, it was clear I was going to do that. French Open and No.1.
STAN SMITH: It started at six, and at 10 it solidified you wanted to win the French Open?
JUSTINE HENIN: Yes. At 21 it became real.
AMELIE MAURESMO: I don't know. Really for me it came later. I was enjoying the sport. I was enjoying just playing tennis, doing the best I could. Obviously on the court I had dreams, but not thinking at this age, 10, that I was going to be able to do it. But 15, 16, 17, I started to think that maybe it's possible. I started to work around 19, 20, accordingly to potentially a Grand Slam champion.
AMELIE MAURESMO: 19, 20, I started to put things together to say, Okay, I think I can do it, so let's try to work in the right direction.
MARAT SAFIN: I always wanted to be a soccer player. That was my goal. But you know the mother knows what is best for the son. I said, That's it, it's over.
Actually, the dream was how do I quit tennis when I was young. I hated it. It's true. I can say that now after my career. I didn't want to play. I was playing the tournaments, winning the tournaments. Even hating the sport, I was winning the tournaments.
11, 12, you start to get out of Russia, you start to see the European players. Why not? I'm not that bad. If I hate tennis, I can play with them. It means, if I start to like it a little bit, I have a chance.
STAN SMITH: Did you have a dream goal?
MARAT SAFIN: I was realistic. I was so far away from the goal, better not to dream, better not to harm yourself.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTINE HENIN: We have been very lucky we were there at the same time. I always say that I would never have been that player because it was challenging. Small country, almost the same age. We were traveling a lot when we were young together playing for Belgium. We were pretty close.
Now we started being rivals on the tour, became more competition, but respect was there. That's for sure. I think because of Kim and with Kim, I could complete a lot of things. When she was doing good, I was thinking she's doing it, maybe I can do it by myself. It was the same for her.
Being No.1, No. 2 at the same time for such a small country was real. It was good. That made the story different. That makes the story more beautiful.
She pushed me to get better, to improve.
STAN SMITH: And you pushed her?
JUSTINE HENIN: And I pushed her. The fact we were there at the same time really made better players than probably what we could become.

Q. (No microphone.)
AMELIE MAURESMO: It's funny, because when I hear them saying six and 10, for me it came a little bit later in the head. You wait for it a little bit longer. You kind of appreciate it more. You have a little bit more perspective, even though the real perspective comes when you stop.
But, yeah, I guess I needed more time to process things, to improve. I wasn't good enough before obviously. I needed a little bit more time.

Q. (No microphone.)
MARAT SAFIN: I still don't know. I still don't know. In our tennis, in men's tennis, I think I'm allowed to say, whoever has the bigger balls at the end of the day. Everybody hits the ball the same, everybody more or less runs the same, everybody more or less mentally the same. But who has more balls and will to win, that's the main key. Sorry for my English, but it works.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTINE HENIN: For this, I don't know. I would say not that much important, as Kim could be part of it also. Yeah, we are proud for our country. But it's important to remain the same person. I think it's the key.
Also for me it's also been very important, no matter what happens, no matter if you get win, if you get honors, that you know where you came from, all the way you went through.
At the end does that make us a better person? Probably not to get the honors, but just what we had to come through, how we can keep the head up even when it's difficult, everything we learned. That's the most important thing.
Many of my colleagues in Belgium, they did the same way.
My probably most beautiful experience was Olympic Games because I could see so many athletes fighting so much for their sport. Sometimes in sports, there's no money, it's just the passion of the sport, the passion of the game. I think at the end it's what is the most important thing.
MARAT SAFIN: Mostly for my family and second of all for the country. It's important for each country. For us is definitely very important to represent the country. Very huge thing for all of us, for the sportsmens, to be part of it.
STAN SMITH: This is a good example of why this is the International Tennis Hall of Fame. We have three great players going in today.
Before I close, I'd just like to say that these represent the recent player categories of players that have retired after five years. But we have a master player category which honors competitors who have been out of the sport for over 20 years.
Today we're honoring Peggy Scriven, who is from Yorkshire, England. She was a clay court specialist and won the French twice, also won the mixed doubles, the first British woman and unseeded player to win the French championships. She's a left‑hander. They tried to force her to play right‑handed, but she played left‑handed. She won also the mixed doubles at the French. She was born in 1912 and passed away in 2001.
The other player is Yvon Petra. He is a French player who won Wimbledon. It was interesting to see the difference there. He won Wimbledon in the '40s. It came after he was a prisoner of war for two years during World War II, came out and won Wimbledon. He went on to play another number of years.
He was born in 1916, passed away in 1984. His son Phillip, he'll be there today to accept that.
On behalf of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, the fans all around the world, it's a privilege to congratulate you for being inducted today. We'll be joining you on the court later today.
Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297