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July 16, 2016
Newport, Rhode Island
JOHN ARNHOLD: On behalf of the executive board and the staff of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, I would like to welcome you to this special occasion and to our new and improved campus. Thank you all for coming and being part of this great momentous day.
We're very excited to celebrate our new Hall of Fame members, Amelie, Justine, and Marat. And also to honor two inductees, Yvon Petra and Peggy Scriven.
I'd like to take this opportunity to recognize our dedicated executive board, a group of individuals who believe very strongly in the importance of the Hall of Fame and the potential that it has to make a significant impact on this sport.
Their dedication to the growth of this institution, both domestically and internationally, knows no end. I'd like to thank each of you for all of your hard work and dedication. Please, would you rise.
Our ceremony wouldn't be possible without the generous support of our corporate partners. First I'd like to recognize Rolex. The support that Rolex provides to the museum and to enshrinement weekend is very important to serving our mission to preserve and promote the history of tennis and to celebrate its great champions worldwide.
I would also like to recognize our official sponsors: EMC, Infosys, BNP Paribas, Alex and Ani, Carolyn's Sakonnet Vineyard, and Chubb. Thank you.
Now it's my great pleasure to welcome the International Tennis Hall of Fame's president and a member of the class of 1985, Stan Smith.
STAN SMITH: Over the last two years, the campus of the Hall of Fame has been through major renovations and expansion, which we hope all of you will be enjoying this week.
These improvements were made possible thanks to the very generous contributions of our Match Point Capital Campaign. The Hall of Fame tennis club is enjoyed by many residents and visitors to Newport. Through the recent expansions and improvements, we have six new hard courts. Yesterday we hosted a special ceremony to dedicate these courts which have been named after Hall of Famers and three professional tennis tours of yesterday and today.
Our first court is named for the former Hall of Fame president and class of 1970, Tony Trabert. One of the U.S.'s great champions, Tony was ranked No.1 in the world, a 10‑time major champion.
The Mark McCormack court is named for one of our sport's most brilliant business minds. Mark was a founder of the sports management agency IMG which has been influential in building the careers of many tennis players, some here today, and tournaments in our sport. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.
The Jack Kramer court honors a man who was both a great champion, maybe one of the best players in the world, and a remarkable leader on the administration and promotion side of the sport. Jack was a singles and doubles champion of the US Open and Wimbledon, winning 10 major championships overall. After his playing career, Jack was a determined advocate for launching the Open era of tennis. He went onto become a co‑founder of the ATP Tour. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1968.
The Billie Jean King court honors our 1987 Hall of Famer. I was privileged to be in the same class with Billie Jean King, along with Bjorn Borg. Not only one of the greatest legends of tennis, but one of the most influential leaders of our time. She won 39 major tournament titles during her career, a founder of the WTA with the goal of growing tennis and opportunities for women.
Two courts were named for leading organizations in our sport. The World Championship of Tennis court celebrates the trailblazing pro tennis tour which started in the late 1960s and paved the way for the Open era of tennis and the exciting global professional tours which we all know and love today.
The final court is dedicated to the Women's Tennis Association, the WTA, and the ATP, the men's association. The two professional tours in our global sport have joined forces in order to be recognized here where tennis history is celebrated daily.
We cannot emphasize enough the addition of these new courts, the importance they have made to the campus and the city of Newport.
We are delighted to have many of the donors who supported these dedications, as well as some family members representing those who the courts are named after. Would you please stand and be recognized, all the families from those people I've mentioned.
In addition to the new courts, there's significant changes and improvements right here on the Bill Talbert stadium court. Directly behind me are the east boxes. This past year these boxes underwent a complete renovation, notably a new paved seating area.
The new Tom and Mary James south grandstands were designed to provide a new, more comfortable experience for our fans.
Marion Weatherstone and Tom and Mary James have served and supported the International Tennis Hall of Fame for decades. Thanks to their generosity, the entire Hall of Fame experience has improved immeasurably. Mary and Tom and Marion, please stand and be recognized.
It is my pleasure to introduce Brett Haber.
BRETT HABER: Hello, everybody. Hot enough for you here in Newport today? I agree. We're going jacket‑free for the first time.
Welcome, everyone, to the 2016 Rolex Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony. For the first time, and certainly not the last time, won't you join me in welcoming and congratulating the incoming members of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
This is the portion of the proceedings that we lovingly refer to as the induction ceremony preshow. It's become a tradition that we ask some of the existing Hall of Famers to come up to the podium and join us for a chat.
Here for the first time in over a decade, join me in welcoming the eight‑time major singles champion, member of the class of 1998, Jimmy Connors.
It is a treat to see you. Let me ask you a couple of tennis questions.
For starters, during the Wimbledon finals we saw a couple of your old mates in the coaching box, Ivan Lendl, and John McEnroe, if we can refer to him as a friend of yours. You've done some coaching over your years. Are you going to get back into this?
JIMMY CONNORS: What I like about it better now that I'm not.
First of all, to see Lendl and Mack in the coaching box, that just goes to show how generations are joining. The way the game has changed with the equipment, the strings, the power that the players play with, mixing with the old school attitude of imagination and touch and feel, to combine a hybrid player, who really will be able to produce the best tennis that we've seen in the way they're playing today.
Sometimes a different thought and different ways to approach different situations in the course of a match is something that's important. The younger players today can pick the brains of the guys from the past, what they have to offer, try to incorporate it into the games of today, which only makes for better tennis for the fans and television viewing audience.
BRETT HABER: Well said, Jimmy.
We're also excited that for the first time later this summer, we'll be at the US Open, Arthur Ashe Stadium with a roof on it. One of the unfortunate by‑products of the roof being on that stadium is that we will no longer see during the rain delays the 8,000th replay of your 1991 match with Aaron Krickstein. I know we're all sad about that.
You guys finally got together again last year at Aaron's event at his club in Boca. Tell us how you guys had never gotten together in the intervening 25 years and what it was finally like to get on the court and let him beat you for once.
JIMMY CONNORS: I think, first of all, a lot of that was blown out of proportion. After that my life certainly changed. I stopped playing the regular tour. Went on and helped promote and market the senior tour that we had during the '90s. A lot more was made out of us not being friends than should have been.
We had been friends for a long time. We practiced together. He stayed at my home. We're still buddies to this day.
Last year in Boca, at his club, I played a match with him for his club members. It was my last match that I played in public. I chose that for a reason. That reason was that there was so much flack given over the fact that we weren't friends, so we would understand from both sides of us that that had never gone away.
To have walked away and not have played in public since then was my pleasure. I spent a lot of time in Boca. To still be able to see him and play tennis and golf with him is my pleasure.
BRETT HABER: We sincerely hope you change your mind and that's not your last match in public.
Thank you, Jimmy.
JIMMY CONNORS: Thank you.
BRETT HABER: Please welcome to the podium from the class of 2009, Monica Seles.
MONICA SELES: I don't know about this.
BRETT HABER: You all remember all the things that Monica did that was amazing. There was a stretch of time from January of '91 to February of '93, a little bit over two years, where she was automatic. They played nine Grand Slams during that period, she won seven. She played 34 tournaments, made the final in 33 of the 34.
I look at you and I ask this question. What's that like?
MONICA SELES: That was so long ago, it's hard to remember.
I love to play tennis. I love the game. It's wonderful to be back here in Newport.
For me remembering the days when I probably played some of the best tennis of my career just brings back a smile to my face and just have some wonderful memories.
After I retired, I do not miss the pressure of those days, I have to say.
BRETT HABER: Last night at the dinner, Vijay Amritraj mentioned the grunting. You gave him a look and a sigh, so I know better not to bring it up. But I will. What I wanted to say is that the players today grunt far louder and far longer, some in three and four syllables, like they're grunting a paragraph. Do you ever feel it was unfair?
MONICA SELES: I grunted from the first day I played one of my early junior championships in France. We have a young lady here that played with me in the audience. I always grunted. It was to me natural from day one. Unfortunately when I became good, it became a little bit of an issue.
I think Jimmy was a little bit ahead of me, too, in the grunting. I guess I was the first female. I don't know.
BRETT HABER: Let history show that Jimmy grunted first louder and longer than Monica.
Thank you, Monica.
MONICA SELES: Thank you.
BRETT HABER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Brett Haber from the Tennis Channel. It is my honor and pleasure to welcome you to the 2016 Rolex Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony in beautiful Newport, Rhode Island.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame is a living monument to those who have authored the history of this beautiful sport. It represents the highest level of achievement in tennis either by a great champion on the court or by a contributor to the sport whose dedication made a difference in the growth of tennis globally.
Today we honor five extraordinary players, individuals who exemplify exactly what it means to be a champion. Perseverance, integrity, passion, athleticism. Very shortly these players will officially become Hall of Famers, a title bestowed only on the very best and the very few.
To celebrate this achievement there are special guests to help us salute the new members. We are joined by, from the class of 2005, Butch Buchholz. Celebrating the 62nd anniversary of his championship sweep at the 1954 U.S. Nationals, he was the Wimbledon champion in 1953, a five‑time major doubles champion, player for the Davis Cup team, from the class of 1971, Vic Seixas.
This Aussie won 11 mixed doubles major crowns, including the mixed slam in 1967. From the class of 2010, Owen Davidson.
She is a five‑time Wimbledon doubles champion, twice a singles finalist and one of our sport's trailblazers in gender equity and Open tennis from the class of 1994, welcome home Rosie Casals. Sorry, class of 1996.
She was the inaugural employee of the WTA, and one of the most influential administrators in women's tennis history, from the class of 2011, Peachy Kellmeyer.
She has dedicated her life to promoting this sport. Managing director of the WTA, president of the USTA, from the class of 2014, Jane Brown Grimes.
He won seven major titles, including the US Open singles in 1971, the Wimbledon singles in 1972. He is a five‑time Grand Slam doubles champion, served American tennis as a Davis Cup star, an Olympic coach, now is the president of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, from the class of '87, the great Stan Smith.
This woman is undoubtedly one of the greatest players of all time, the winner of nine major singles titles, including four at Melbourne Park, three at Roland Garros. She was the world No.1 player for 178 weeks, winner of 53 singles titles and three Fed Cup crowns for the United States, from the class of 2009, Monica Seles.
Finally, the numbers that this man accrued are just mind‑boggling. 1256 match wins, 109 singles titles. He was the year‑end No.1 on five occasions, capturing eight major singles titles, including five at his home Grand Slam. One of the true icons of the sport, from the class of 1998, James Scott Connors.
Also seated on the stage is the president of the WTA, Micky Lawler, who will be introducing her friend Amelie Mauresmo a little bit later on. Welcome back to Newport.
We are also happy to have with us today the newly elected chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame who is doing such great work on this organization's behalf, John Arnhold.
Ladies and gentlemen, since we last gathered here, two beloved members of our Hall of Fame family have passed away. We would like to take a moment to celebrate the lives of Hall of Famers Mike Davies and Bud Collins, and the impact they had on this beautiful sport.
Mike Davies was a tennis rebel. After a playing career before the Open era began, Mike turned his efforts to administration where he truly shined. As executive director of the WCT, Mike set out to build a marketable buzz around the game. He contracted the top athletes to compete and paid them fair prize money, a novelty in the sport at the time.
He changed the color of the ball from white to yellow to make it easier to see. Mike brought tennis to the fans and to the world. He was the one that instituted the 90‑second changeover, just the right amount of time for a commercial break, to make the sport more appealing to broadcasters.
After the WCT, Mike went on to hold positions at the ATP Tour and the ITF. His vision for a dynamic sport was clear. We remember Mike Davies.
Here on these hallowed grounds where tennis history is celebrated every day, we take a moment to remember a man who not only knew more about the sport's history than anyone else, but who conveyed that history more passionately and to more people than perhaps anyone we've ever known. We are talking, of course, about author, journalist, broadcaster, historian, mentor, fashion plate, and flat‑out tennis fan, Bud Collins.
His titles in this sport were numerous, but perhaps the most appropriate title was to call him tennis friend. He loved this sport and its characters endlessly. He never tired of working to draw others into that love. His eloquent prose could make fans around the world feel they were sitting courtside next to him. His television commentary was the perfect mix of astute, entertaining, funny. Bud's passion for the game was simply unmatched, just as his trademark bow ties and colorful trousers.
Both Mike and Bud will be forever cherished. They left an indelible impact on our sport and are greatly missed. Today we remember them with a smile and a deep sense of gratitude.
So with the appropriate smile left by the memory of those two men, ladies and gentlemen, it's my sincere pleasure to welcome to the podium the chief executive officer of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Todd Martin.
TODD MARTIN: Before we begin the festivities, I would like to recognize an important group of people seated on the stadium court. This group supported and encouraged the dreams of those honorees we are about to recognize on the podium. I'll ask the family and friends of our inductees to please stand up.
This is an exciting time in our sport. Today's players so clearly are inspired by those that came before them. This is why we work so hard at the Hall of Fame to preserve and promote the history of the sport and to celebrate the game's great champions.
Those on this stage have created their own history. They have achieved the highest levels of success. So we celebrate them today by presentation of our highest honor, induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Amelie Mauresmo, technically a Hall of Famer for a year. She wasn't able to attend last year because she was busy with the birth of her first child. But we are thrilled to welcome Amelie back to celebrate with the class of 2016 and to be able to raise a glass to her this weekend.
The Hall of Fame class of 2016 has four inductees. In the Recent Player category, Justine Henin and Marat Safin. Additionally we will induct two individuals posthumously, in the Master Player category, which represents those who have been retired for more than 20 years. First, Yvon Petra, a French star in the 1940s. His success straddled World War II. In 1939, at 23 years of age, he put down his racquet and he joined the French Army.
When his company was captured, he injured his knee on the march to their POW camp. He was a prisoner of war for over two years. Fortunately he was recognized by a German officer as a great tennis player and was provided better care. His knee was repaired. He was repatriated to occupied France. He was encouraged to play in tennis tournaments.
Amazingly, after all that, in 1946 after the war had ended, Yvon Petra won the Wimbledon Championships. He also won two doubles majors and one mixed French championship. Although he passed away in 1984, his son Philippe is here with us today on what would be the hundredth anniversary of Yvon Petra's birthday.
Britain's Peggy Scriven was a dominant force on clay in the '30s. She pushed the sport forward for women with her athleticism and unique power, especially on the forehand side. In 1933, Peggy was the first British woman to ever win the French Championships. Notably in 1934, she came back and repeated the accomplishment, defeating Hall of Famer Helen Jacobs in the final.
Peggy is the last British woman to have won the famed major in consecutive years. Also she won doubles and mixed titles at the French, and ranked among the top 10 for three years. Although she passed away in 2001 at the age of 88, her accomplishments will be represented here at the Hall of Fame forever.
While we transition from the greats of the past to those of more modern years, to begin our recognition of our next inductee, I'll ask that you please rise for the national anthem for Amelie Mauresmo.
To introduce our first Hall of Famer today, president of the WTA, a long time friend and manager of Amelie, please welcome a great friend of tennis, Micky Lawler.
MICKY LAWLER: In light of the latest horrifying events in France, and while we honor one of the greatest champions of that country, we feel for you, Nice. We honor the lost ones and we stand with you. Je suis Nice.
My name is Micky Lawler. If I sound in awe or nervous of the occasion, it's only because I'm so overwhelmed by a sense of undeserved honor that my heart is beating faster than it was on championship point of Amelie's legendary 2006 Wimbledon title.
This morning I'd taken the wrong bus and got off at the wrong stop and found myself surrounded by all these superstars. But it was the right bus. Thank you.
So you may recall that in that Wimbledon final, Amelie came back from a set down to her opponent, this year's Hall of Fame inductee, Justine Henin. They also played each other in the 2004 Olympic final in Athens, and in the 2006 Australian Open final.
You know all of that, and you also know that they both possess arguably the most beautiful one‑handed backhands in the game.
So my dear Amelie, while I stand here as an unimportant supporting member of your team, I speak on behalf of LoÃ¯c, Michel, Xavier, Benedicte, and your extended and devoted tennis family, from the ones who could not make the trip to Newport, a few words.
They always have a few words, and here they are. Amelie's superior game at the net and her elegance and ease of movement are greatly missed. Among her unique qualities are her intelligence, her continuous strive for excellence, and her passion for a happy life.
She is an extraordinary mom, armed with great compassion and an unmatched sense of humor. Amelie is the queen of hearts.
About that sense of humor, let me share with you how relieved we all are that today you are receiving the highest honor in the sport of tennis because this could have ended up horribly differently for Amelie. If I listen to your mom's tales of how you as a child you couldn't sit still and you always had to do things your own way, yeah, could have been different.
You don't have to tell me that this isn't true because, as her manager, it would drive me crazy, even though I've always loved and respected Amelie so much.
For those of you who don't know Amelie, when you call her, you are 100% certain of getting her voice mail, with a recording that says, If you'd like to leave a message, fine, but I will never call you back, with great emphasis on jamais.
Many who think they know her mistake her so‑called nerves for uncertain trepidation when, in reality, she is, first, incredibly respectful of her opponent, and second, as courageous as a lion and as strong as her beloved little one over there, who I have a feeling could be sitting in that chair 40 years from now.
May I share a personal highlight and a big reason for the bond between Amelie, the exceptional Dianne Hayes, and me. In 2005 at Indian Wells, where my boss was the boss, he's always the boss, everywhere the boss, I managed to stalk Amelie successfully to the point where we had a most serious meeting on the grassy area where you can sit and you're surrounded by player and player families and player kids and grandmothers, a lot of people. There's so much noise, it's impossible to concentrate.
She was No.1 in the world and had not yet won a Grand Slam. You can imagine the criticism. She'd been given a very hard time by the media and was still a little sensitive from the comments that she received in the locker room following the Australian Open six years earlier, when she opened her heart to the world as a 19 and unseeded finalist. That's Amelie. She's very, very honest, heart on her sleeve.
As the No.1 player in the world in 2005, Amelie was playing without a footwear and apparel contract, which is unheard of in our industry, especially if I'm the manager.
Sitting on that grassy area, I felt Amelie's disappointment and sadness by a certain lack of acceptance that was completely unjust. She had done everything right and she felt that the industry did not really believe in her.
Feeling somewhat helpless, very helpless, I thought to myself, Okay, if it is the last thing to do, I'm going to make this right. I looked into those mischievous green eyes that drove me crazy and made Amelie a promise, a promise of heart I was uncertain to deliver. Not a smart thing to do.
Reebok had just launched a campaign, I am what I am. That campaign was made for Amelie Mauresmo. With the help and unwavering support of the Reebok team, led by our extraordinary Dianne Hayes, we had Amelie's beaming face on thousands of buses in Paris.
Her smile said to millions of kids, Live your life honestly, live it fully and live it with passion. Play to win, work hard, and never give up. That, my dear friends, is the incredible woman, the exceptional woman I present to you now, the one and only Amelie Mauresmo.
AMELIE MAURESMO: Thank you. Thank you, Micky, for accepting to present me today. I know it was not an easy thing to do for you, but thanks for those kind words.
You guys can call me, I'll call you back. Don't worry (laughter).
I'd like to thank the Hall of Fame for postponing a little bit the induction and for giving me the opportunity to be here with you today with my family. It means a lot to me. Yeah, I'm a bit late, but it was worth it, so... The best journey in life is starting.
I don't even know how to say it and how to express it. When I hear all those champions, what they've achieved, the greatest in our sport, I mean, to be part of that list, even as a small champion compared to those who put a big history in our sport, is such an honor. It's a privilege. It's a responsibility obviously that I hope I'm carrying, still carrying, in a good way, that is making you proud even after that career that I had.
I don't know if you guys know, but I started tennis watching a certain Yannick Noah, which I think is a Hall of Famer as well, winning the French Open. That was in '83, for those who recall. I was four. I fell in love, not with Yannick, but with tennis. I mean, I love him, but...
I guess as a four‑year‑old little girl, I guess I could see the emotions, the athleticism, the weird forehands. There's a link there between him and me as well. But also what I saw for me was the emotions. What he was going through on the tennis court, the emotions that he was giving to the crowd, that he was also receiving, that he was giving to his team, to the people working with him.
Looking back now, I think that's what I saw at the time and that's basically my whole career, working with the people that I respect, that I love, that give me a lot of their time, their practice. They sacrificed family moments. I would like to thank them all.
20 years ago I think I met Alexia. I was 16. I was doing some shit things here and there, and she tried to put my mind together. Pascale also 15 years ago. I'm also thinking about those ones who are not here today, LoÃ¯c, a great coach, Xavier, Michel. I have to thank them for what they gave me throughout the years working with me, but also they're my family.
I found a family playing tennis. I owe everything to this sport. They're still here with me, spending holidays here, playing cards there, enjoying whatever stupid thing we want to do together.
I think that's the real thing about this, is the journey of life that we go through, is how we discover ourselves, how we grow up in the public eye, but also with the people that are next to us, including finding what's necessary here in the brain to actually lift, finally for me after a long wait, the biggest trophies in our world of tennis.
I'm honored, I'm pleased to be here in front of you. I think if there is a message that I could maybe deliver today, it's to believe, to always believe. There was tough moments, tears, joy obviously, but some difficult ones. I think if I hadn't believed that it was possible, possible to be good, be great, I don't know, to be a small champion compared to the others, but still a small one, I don't think I would have done what I've done.
So, yeah, believe in what you do.
I want to finish, I hope it's not too short, because some people say I have to last for 20 or 25 minutes. I can't do that, I'm sorry. You're happy with that? Okay.
Micky started talking about the attacks in Nice. I want to finish on this. It's obviously a tragedy. It's Nice on our national day a couple days ago. It was Paris (tearing up). Sorry.
It was Paris in November. It was Brussels, Tel Aviv. This has to stop. The only thing we can do is to continue to be free, continue to be happy, continue to live. That's what we'll do. Thank you.
TODD MARTIN: In honor of our next Hall of Famer, our first Russian inductee, Marat Safin, please rise for the Russian national anthem.
To present our next inductee, a competitor whose spirit and longevity won over the masses, and earned him several records that are likely never to be threatened, a model for those of us who grew up in the '70s, and taught us all how to compete better than any. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Jimmy Connors.
JIMMY CONNORS: It's been way too many years ago I was standing here accepting my induction into the Hall of Fame here at Newport. It is what as an athlete you spend your career striving for. Now I stand here as a presenter. It is my honor and pleasure to be back to induct your 2016 nominee.
This young man started tennis at an early age. His parents, both former tennis players and coaches. At 14 he moved to Spain where he was looking for better programs and a place to hone his skills. He grew up fast. In 1997, he turned pro. A talented newcomer and one to watch with the skills to be the best.
It didn't take him long. His first title came in 1998 at the age of 19, and he was on his way.
In 2000, he took the US Open by storm, beating the great Pete Sampras in the final for his first Grand Slam title. He followed that with a win Down Under in Melbourne in 2005 beating Roger Federer in an epic semifinal, and the crowd favorite Australian Lleyton Hewitt in the final.
He was also in the finals of the Australian in 2002 and 2004.
In all, he won 15 tour titles, helped win the Davis Cup for his country in 2002 and 2006, and reached the best in the world, ranked No.1 for nine weeks.
He was emotional, played with passion. That is what drew me to him. Colorful, yes. Charismatic, yes. Controversial, yes. Great tennis player, no doubt. All reasons why when Marat took the court, you wanted to have the best seat in the house, never knowing what you were going to get. The tennis you expected. Everything else was a bonus. I for one loved the show.
He has traded in his racquet now, having retired in 2009, and has moved on into a political career. Quite a change. But he is always looking to improve and get better, just like when he was on the tennis court.
When I asked him which he liked better, tennis or politics, he quickly replied, Tennis, because you don't have to think.
So right now I would like him to think. I want him to think about the history of this game and his place in it. Think about all the great athletes, great tennis players, both men and women that have stood right here before him, all writing their own chapter in this great book of tennis, and making the game what it is today in their own way, and how now he is a part of that.
It is your chapter now that has been written and time for you to step here and take your place among the greats. Welcome to the club. My friend, ladies and gentlemen, Marat Safin.
MARAT SAFIN: My God, it's so hot, almost like in Russia. Jesus. Almost.
Well, I was thinking from where to start yesterday. First of all, I have to say hi to everybody. See you all, president, Todd. A difficult situation right now, Russia and the States. So to be inducted on American soil the first Russian, a huge respect for you guys. Thank you very much on that one. A really risky subject, I have to admit, but really brave (laughter).
Well, second part, I think I was surprised. I never came here. I was so stupid. Throughout my career, I made so many mistakes. Now that I can admit all that, I never came to this beautiful place. The grown‑ups never told me to come here, so it's the fault of Todd Martin. Now I understand.
It's incredible place, incredible history. I know a little bit about that. I'm in the club. The site, it's an amazing place. I never expect I would be here and I would see that. At first I heard there was a small tournament in Newport, bad bounces, but who cares about the bounces (laughter). Really, who cares about bounces in such a beautiful place. That's really stupid to say that (laughter).
The next part is the museum. I think all of us, juniors, boys, girls, I think we agree on that, nobody knows the history of tennis when we start to play tennis. Nobody knows nothing, zero. I started to play tennis, I didn't know the game. I wanted to play soccer for some reason. Another mistake almost.
But thanks to my mother, she drug me to the courts, said, Listen, you're going to sit here, I'm coaching, don't bother people, pick up the balls, and get off the court.
So it was my beginning of the career. I still want to run away to play soccer. But my mother, she insisted, really insisted.
Also I want to say thank you to everyone who keeps up the tradition, you guys, you're passing on to the younger ones. I finally get it now, you can trust me. How important is that? How important to keep the tradition and pass it on to younger ones. We need to know that. I think we should develop that more for the young kids. When they become pro, they should know the history of tennis. There should be exams for sure, it's a must.
I have to say thank you to all the people that I crossed in this incredible journey. Wait, hold on, hold on. The important people that participated in my life.
I can tell you one thing, well, the Russia collapsed '90s, collapsed completely. Bad weather, ugly people. My father, he found a sponsor, which is weird, in '91, '92, to find a sponsor. Swiss Bank. How did it happen? I still don't know.
But the most funny part, I never met the guy. He never saw me. I never said hello. I never said thank you. He never came back for the money, which is good. I still owe (laughter).
Obviously parents, important part. We get back to that later.
I want to say also thanks to people who participated from ITF, ATP, doctors, linesmen, everybody who is part of the big family we are in. Brothers and sisters, boys and girls, the older ones, the younger ones. The older ones, always look up for them, try to copy them, try to become better players. So we learn from them a lot.
Todd, you were one of my favorites, honestly.
So that part also, and I have good memories, bad memories. But still it's a good lesson, it's a good journey with this rollercoaster.
I really want to thank all the ATP officials who stop giving me fines for throwing racquets and breaking racquets, otherwise I be one of the sponsors here (laughter).
Then also I would like to thank you, of course, family. My mother, she insisted. She didn't give me chance to become Messi, but it's okay. What can I do?
Thank you to my father that he was strong enough. He was a little bit too straightforward towards me.
Thanks to my sister. Very glad to have you as a younger one. Thanks God you are the younger one. If you were the older one, I would suffer much more.
I'm also proud of our family. I have to admit, if somebody doesn't know, the Williams sisters, No.1 in the world, and my family, boy and girl, both No.1.
I also want to thank the people from Spain. Spain gave me my second home. I never met most incredible people and most caring people in this world towards me. The way they took me. They took me as a family, young one from Russia. They called me Russo. I was the only one in town, I suffered a lot. I want to thank all of them because they treat me like a fan and they still do.
I'm actually very happy what they make from me. Actually, I'm not bad.
What can I say? By the way, Vijay started to say a story yesterday how great was the generation going out for dinner with the girls, celebrating with the women, with the lovers, this story. I was listening. I said, But our generation was good, too, but less than yours, but we had good times, too.
I'm a part of that generation, the last probably generation that could enjoy going out together. Kuerten, Philippoussis, me going out. Philippoussis paying for all the bills in all the night clubs. What else you can ask for (laughter)?
We lived like a family. We traveled like musicians. It was more rock'n roll with all the good things to remember. Unfortunately today I'm not going to tell them. My parents are here. They don't want to know that.
It's a huge honor for me, like I said, to be part of it. I didn't expect until I arrived here what I was doing in tennis, who I am, and what I achieved. But these two days, these three days, I really realized how closed‑minded I was and I didn't appreciate this sport as much as I could. Now I'm doing it much more.
Unfortunately, time passed, I cannot come back. So Djokovic can win couple tournaments more, Federer also, so they can be safe.
Again, it's a big honor. Thanks a lot for everybody coming here and keeping the tradition, like I said, for this beautiful place. Again, guys, thank you very much. It's a pleasure, pleasure. Thank you very much.
TODD MARTIN: Finally, for the first time here at the Hall of Fame, it's my pleasure to have the Belgium anthem sung in honor of Justine Henin.
Our final presenter once won six straight major finals. She is a former No.1 on the WTA, and she shares with the woman she is about to present one special accomplishment. They are the two women to have won three consecutive French Opens. Please give a warm welcome to Hall of Famer Monica Seles.
MONICA SELES: Thank you, everyone, at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, to the tennis fans watching, and to all my fellow inductees.
What an honor it is for me to introduce Justine Henin, someone who personifies everything tennis stands for: passion, effort, persistence and fair play. One thing as a fellow competitor of Justine I always respected about her, in watching her rise from a junior player to a professional player, she has never changed as a person. She always stayed very humble. Much respect for that.
Most of all, Justine's journey reveals the power of a single person's desire to achieve greatness in his or her own way. As Justine told us, impossible is nothing.
For Justine, it all began with the dreams of a little girl in Belgium, a girl who saw the game through her own personal lens, a girl who at a young age picked up a racquet and said, This is how I'm going to hit a backhand. And what a backhand it became. Beautiful, powerful, versatile. Without a question, one of the signature shots in tennis history. As an opponent, I hated it.
At the age of 10, Justine in 1992 attended the Roland Garros finals with her mom. With the unblinking conviction that the whole world would witness firsthand, Justine told her mom that she one day, too, would play for the championship. Justine was true to her word.
Four times Justine won the French Open. The clay court was her canvas, and the racquet her paint brush. They were just a few of Justine's accomplishments. Two US Opens, an Australian Open, Olympic gold medal, 43 WTA singles titles, and ranked No.1 in the world for 117 weeks.
As with every champion, numbers hardly tell the story. Let's ask ourselves, has anyone in tennis history ever played like Justine? She was an 'artiste'. Her game was a rainbow, the full spectrum of color. Justine was also a warrior, dedicated, driven, action focused, one tough competitor as you'll ever see. Having played Justine seven times, I got to see this firsthand.
Justine had the elegance of a ballet dancer but the intensity and precision of a surgeon on the tennis court. Justine, that is one powerful combination. We're all grateful for Justine's contribution to the game of tennis, and it's very much proof that tennis is a global sport.
Justine is the first tennis player to be inducted from Belgium to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
As Justine continues to contribute, being a mom, her academy, working with younger players, giving back to the sport, with her presence as a champion in every sense of the world.
So now, ladies and gentlemen, please let me introduce the 2016 inductee into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Justine Henin.
JUSTINE HENIN: Thank you. Good afternoon. Looks like I'm the only one who didn't write the speech. I'm the bad student today. But the good thing is that maybe I'm not going to be that long. I know it's hot for everyone.
I want to say thank you to Monica for the words. What she missed, Monica, to say, in 1992, when I went to see that French Open final, it was her playing against Steffi Graf. You beat Steffi 8‑6 in the third. It was wonderful inspiration I could get that day.
At six years old, I was into my room. I grew up in a small village in the south of Belgium. I would stay in my bedroom and I was jumping like I was winning the French Open. I was six years old. Then I went to the French Open with my mom, as Monica said. Watching these two women, these two incredible women, fighting with respect, with a lot of passion, with a lot of dedication, it has been just an unbelievable inspiration for me.
I said to my mom, One day I will do like these girls and I will win the French Open.
What Monica didn't say neither, Monica and I finally had a lot of things to say together, but the first practice I could do at the French Open, I was 17 years old, it was with you, Monica. That day my legs were shaking like the little girl I was at home when I was dreaming. I had to call Monica to organize a practice. I was just so scared to practice with such a great champion.
After that practice, I was in the locker room. I was with Steffi, Arantxa, Monica. I felt the atmosphere of the locker room at the French Open. I said to myself, Now I know why I love this game, why I love these girls, why they inspire me, because they are serious, they are professional, they are passionate, they are respectful. From that time the inspiration was on and my career could go on.
What I can remember today from all this journey, it would be too easy that I don't remember the big victories, the Grand Slams. Of course, I remember them. It's been a great accomplishment. But what I remember from all this is what I learned from my tennis life.
What I've learned is how you can do everything to reach your dream and reach your goal. I learn how to keep my head up even when it was really difficult, because there are tough times during the career. I learn how to keep fighting. I wasn't the tallest, I wasn't the strongest. But I did that campaign one day for a sponsor that was called, Impossible is nothing. People thought I was crazy, but I was just chasing my goals.
That's what I learned in my career. My mom was a teacher. Probably she wanted me to go to study. I chose another direction. I think it has been the best school of life. Everything I learn, I can bring that to my new life with my husband and my daughter, the family I'm really proud of.
I would like, of course, to say thank you to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. It's just an honor being part of it, being part of the history of the game. Visiting the museum yesterday with Marat, looking at all these legends, being a part of it is much more than I could expect.
I would also like to say thank you to my parents. They drove me everywhere when I was young to go practice. I would like to say thank you to my family, my friends, my long‑time coach, Carlos. 15 years with the same coach is something important. To every people in my team that could make the difference and believe in me.
Maybe just to finish, I think Amelie said a little bit earlier the only advice we can give is believe. I would like to keep that advice, especially to the kids, believe in your dreams because impossible is nothing. Let's keep loving each other and make a better world.
Thank you very much. Thank you.
TODD MARTIN: Congratulations, Justine, Amelie and Marat.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports