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July 22, 2017
Newport, Rhode Island
JOHN ARNHOLD: Thank you, and good afternoon, everybody. I'd also like to welcome Todd Martin, our CEO. I would also like to invite everybody who feels like they should, please take off your jackets.
On behalf of the Board of Governors and the staff of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, I'd like to welcome you to this special occasion. Thank you all for being a part of such a momentous day.
We're excited to celebrate our new Hall of Fame inductees, Steve Flink, Monique Kalkman van den Bosch, the late Vic Braden, Kim Clijsters, and Andy Roddick.
I'd like to take this opportunity to recognize our executive board, dedicated individuals who strongly believe in the importance of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the significant impact it has on our sport. They're committed to the growth of the Hall of Fame throughout the world. I'd like to thank all of you for your hard work.
Would you please rise. Thank you.
Our ceremony today would not be possible without the support of our corporate sponsors. First, I would like to thank Rolex. The generous support that Rolex provides to the museum for the Hall of Fame and enshrinement weekend is critical to accomplishing our mission, to preserve and to promote the history of tennis and celebrate its great champions worldwide.
I would also like to recognize our official sponsors Dell Technologies, BNP Paribas, Fila, Brooks Brothers, who provide our Hall of Fame jackets, and our great partners from Alex and Ani, Chubb, and Fidelity. Thank you all.
Now it is my pleasure to welcome an award‑winning broadcaster who has covered tennis for more than 25 years, and who has become one of the most recognized voices in our sport. From Tennis Channel, ladies and gentlemen, Brett Haber.
BRETT HABER: Hello, everybody. We promise to be a little more specific going forward on when we ask you to rise (laughter). John, we want to be clearer about that.
Welcome everybody, once again, to the 2017 Rolex Hall of Fame enshrinement weekend. It is about ten degrees cooler than it was a year ago. I think we're in for some great weather.
Ladies and gentlemen, would you please join me in welcoming to the stage for the very first time, but certainly not the last, the incoming members of the International Tennis Hall of Fame: Kim Clijsters, Andy Roddick, Steve Flink, Monique Kalkman van den Bosch. And we honor the family of the late Vic Braden.
Todd, what happened (laughter)?
TODD MARTIN: Just so everybody knows, we're not on TV yet. It doesn't matter.
BRETT HABER: Let's do a couple things first. Let's welcome the return Hall of Famers who are here to help us celebrate the incoming class.
For starters, she is a 12‑time major doubles champion twice, a Grand Slam singles finalist, ranked No.3 in the world, trailblazer in the class of gender equity, Rosie Casals from the class of 1996.
This Aussie won 13 Grand Slam titles, including 11 mixed doubles major crowns, and all four of them in the calendar year 1967, from the class of 2010, Owen Davidson.
He won Wimbledon in 1953. In 1954 he swept all three titles of the U.S. championships that year, helping the U.S. reclaim the Davis Cup. Winner of the 15 major titles, from the class of 1971, Vic Seixas.
She has dedicated her life to promoting this sport. She was the chairman and president of the USTA, managing director of the WTA, and is the president emerita of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, from the class of 2014, Jane Brown Grimes.
He is the pioneering founder of wheelchair tennis as an internationally recognized sport, a three‑time Grand Slam champion, world No.1, gold medalist at the Paralympic games in Barcelona, from the class of 2010, Brad Parks.
She is the winner of 18 major singles titles from 1974 to '86. She won at least one Grand Slam title a year. That is an unsurpassed achievement. Her powerful two‑handed backhand revolutionized the game. She remains deeply engaged in it as the leader of an academy that bears her name and an analyst for ESPN, from the class of '95, the great Chris Evert.
I think Chrissie caught a glimpse of herself on the big screen as she walked onto the stage.
He won seven major titles including the U.S. singles championship in 1971, Wimbledon in '72, served American tennis on Davis Cup, and now the president of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, from the class of '87, Stan Smith.
His work ethic took the game to new heights. The winner of four major singles titles, held the World No.1 ranking, a member of two Davis Cup championship teams, currently serves as Davis Cup captain, an analyst for Tennis Channel and other networks, from the class of 2005, Jim Courier.
He was a star at UCLA, the U.S. No.1 in 1967, one of the founding members of the ATP and the founder of the world class tournament that we all live at Indian Wells, California, from the class of 2013, Charlie Pasarell.
A three‑time All‑American at Yale, a U.S. Davis Cup player and captain, he helped establish the ATP and revolutionize the way athletes conduct business, vice‑chairman of the Hall of Fame, member of the class of 2009, Donald Dell.
A man who has seen it all, winner of five major doubles titles, including the Wimbledon and the U.S. championship, barnstorming pro, captain of the Davis Cup squad, from the class of '87, Dennis Ralston.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome all the returning Hall of Famers back to Newport.
We will coax a couple of the returning Hall of Famers for some tennis chat. Please welcome to the microphone, Chris Evert.
CHRIS EVERT: Again? We did this two years ago. It was flat (laughter).
BRETT HABER: You're back from Wimbledon. Talk about Muguruza winning this title. There was a period after winning the French where she went flat. She seemed to struggle. I wonder if you felt that at all when you won your first title. How did you snap out of it? She finally managed to.
CHRIS EVERT: No, I did not feel that.
BRETT HABER: Thanks, Chrissie. Great chatting with you (laughter).
CHRIS EVERT: You want me to be honest (laughter).
I feel like tennis is a lot different now. It's big business. There are a lot more demands on your time, a lot more expectations, even a lot more pressure on the current players.
There's so much more depth. In my day, in the '70s, there wasn't that depth there. Maybe 200 professional women tennis players. In today's game, there's probably thousands and thousands and thousands from all over the world. It's much more global.
I can understand why the expectations were so high. She was very young. I think she's learned that lesson and I think we're going to see a different Muguruza now. I think we're going to see a more mature one.
BRETT HABER: If I could impose on you to offer some thoughts on Kim Clijsters. You watched her emerge onto the scene, got to call many of her big matches, you know her personally. What do you admire about her game and character?
CHRIS EVERT: You look pretty, by the way, today, gorgeous.
Kim, first of all, to have a child and win a major, for a woman, it's unbelievable. It's not easy.
BRETT HABER: Let alone to win three.
CHRIS EVERT: That's why I think it's interesting to see Victoria Azarenka coming back. To have a child, when you're a woman‑‑ I'm sorry, guys, it's a lot different than when you're a man.
What I think about Kim is probably as much of an all‑around great player on the court. She is such a nice player and a charismatic player, a leader in the sport. Off the court she has a lot of great attributes also. When I look at her, I see the whole picture. Look at her. She was the friendliest, probably the most popular player on the tour. She was nice to everybody. That counts for a lot. That counts for a lot.
Her game speaks for itself.
BRETT HABER: How about it for Chris Evert, everybody?
CHRIS EVERT: Thank you.
BRETT HABER: He's probably sick of hanging out with me, we were locked in a booth for two weeks in Wimbledon, but Jim Courier, would you come to the podium, please.
JIM COURIER: You didn't mention my 18 majors, did you?
BRETT HABER: You have 20% that many, which is pretty darn impressive.
JIM COURIER: Close.
BRETT HABER: Some thoughts on Mr. Roddick? You know him so well as his Davis Cup captain. You played together in the PowerShares Series.
JIM COURIER: He's from Florida, I'm from Florida. On tour, you start hearing rumblings about this young kid who has game. You hear maybe he's got a big serve.
First time I really watched him play, I actually wasn't at the tournament. I already lost, because that's what happens when you get old. I was sitting on my couch watching Andy play against Pete Sampras in Miami. I'm sitting by myself. Andy hits a first serve. It hits Pete in the chest. I stood up. This never happens. I stood up on my couch and shouted to no one but myself, We got something here.
I think when you saw Andy serve, you saw his competitive spirit, okay, this kid is going to be special. He is, he was special. It's been fun to watch him grow into the man that he is, the father that he is.
Just from a pure tennis standpoint, this guy, so much passion, so much professionalism. Set the template, I think, for a lot of guys in America on how to do things the right way. Kind of carried that baton over from a philanthropic standpoint. Andre, I think, had a big impact on Andy as far as what you should be doing with your time when you're not trying to be No.1. He's had a lot of great success all around the sport.
We're lucky to have him. It's appropriate that he's here.
BRETT HABER: Jim, thank you very much. As you said those very appropriate words, we consider the question what it means to be a Hall of Famer, there's five new ones coming. Take a look at the video screens, and I think we have a pretty good explanation.
BRETT HABER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome. My name is Brett Haber from Tennis Channel. It's my honor to welcome you to the 2017 Rolex Hall of Fame enshrinement weekend and Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame is a 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, a champion on the court, or by a contributor to the sport whose dedication has made a transcendent difference in the growth of tennis globally.
Today we honor five extraordinary people, individuals who exemplify the great attributes of a champion, perseverance, integrity and passion. Very shortly these five will become Hall of Famers, an honor bestowed upon very few.
To celebrate this achievement, there are several special guests gathered behind me today who have come to celebrate the newest members of the Hall. Would you please welcome our returning Hall of Famers, starting from the class of 1996, Rosie Casals. From the class of 2010, Owen Davidson. From the class of 1971, Vic Seixas. From the class of 2014, Jane Brown Grimes. From the class of 2010, Brad Parks. From the class of 1995, Chris Evert. From the class of 1987, Stan Smith. From the class of 2005, Jim Courier. From the class of 2013, Charlie Pasarell. From the class of 2009, Donald Dell. From the class of 1987, Dennis Ralston.
We're also very happy to have with us today the chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, John Arnhold.
Since last we gathered here, three beloved members of our Hall of Fame family have passed away. We'd like to take a moment to celebrate each of their lives and achievements.
Starting with Russ Adams, inducted into the Hall of Fame of 2007, Russ was for more than 50 years the gold standard of tennis photographers. He diligently chronicled the sport for more than 50 years, spanning the years of black and white, to color, film to digital, Billie Jean King to Martina Hingis. Adams was a constant presence at Grand Slam tournaments, Fed Cup, Davis Cup, Olympic Games, and tennis events around the world. His many honors included being nominated for the Pulitzer prize.
Nancy Jeffett, a member of the class of 2015, made tennis history when she facilitated the first‑ever network broadcast of women's tennis, growing interest in women's tennis. Joining forces with Hall of Famer Maureen Connolly, she co‑founded the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation, an organization that created dozens of tournaments around the country, including the Virginia Slims of Dallas. Additionally, the Foundation has been highly engaged in developing playing opportunities for promising junior players.
And finally, Gardnar Mulloy. Gardnar Mulloy entered the Hall of Fame of 1972. He was a superb lifelong player, winning five major doubles titles, including Wimbledon at the age of 43. He brought great personality to the sport, went on to win senior circuit titles into his 90s. He passed away in November at the age of 102.
Now, 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: Thank you so much, Brett. Brett is a tremendous supporter of the Hall of Fame. We wouldn't be able to do all this without him.
The Hall of Fame preserves and promotes the history of tennis, and celebrates the greatest champions that have participated, contributed and loved this game. History, after all, informs and it also inspires the future.
Those on this stage, and to be honored yet today, created tennis history with achievements at the very highest levels of success. We are thrilled to celebrate those achievements and their careers in tennis.
Those careers have entitled them this day, the day to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Please, everybody, give a hand to our inductees this year: Kim Clijsters, Andy Roddick, Steve Flink, Monique Kalkman van den Bosch, and the late Vic Braden.
As we go through the day, I'm going to be fortunate to have the support and assistance of Hall of Fame president Stan Smith who will help with the awarding of jackets and Hall of Fame medals for the inductees.
Before we get on with the show, I do want to take a special moment to thank a very important group of people who are here today. It is the group that have driven, literally back and forth to the tennis courts, supported, loved, cared for, consoled, and helped the inductees arrive to this moment. Would the family and friends of the inductees please stand. I know there's a lot more of you. I saw the guest list.
Ladies and gentlemen, in honor of Vic Braden, Steve Flink and Andy Roddick, I ask that you stand for the national anthem of the United States of America.
¬†TODD MARTIN: To present our first inductee, Steve Flink, with the honor of Hall of Fame membership, I introduce this woman who just so happened to win 150 singles titles, seven French, six US Open. She's a broadcaster. She's a lot more than just that. She's a dear friend of tennis all around the world. Please welcome Hall of Famer Chris Evert.
CHRIS EVERT: Thank you.
First of all, I can't believe we used to play tennis in this heat. We should get a medal for that, aside from all this (laughter).
First, I'd like to congratulate all the other inductees, Monique, Vic up in heaven, Kim, Andy, one of our greatest American champions. This day belongs to you. Enjoy it.
I'd like to tell you a little bit about my friend Steve Flink and explain why I believe it's fitting that he is being inducted today into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
I've known Steve since he interviewed me at the 1973 French Open. That was a long time ago. He was just getting started as a reporter back then. His interview with me in Paris was his first published piece. He did it the day I reached my first Grand Slam final. Honestly, can I not tell a lie, I don't remember meeting the guy, but he reminded me of this (laughter).
So in a sense, we started our careers together. He has earned the respect of both the players and his fellow writers for not only the high quality of his writing but also his great passion for the game.
He has the ability to astutely analyze tennis matches and provide fair and insightful articles. He knows the tennis the way very, very few people know.
Steve has been involved in the game in so many ways. In 1974, to give you a few of his stats, he went to work for World Tennis Magazine. From 1992 until 2007, Steve wrote for nearly every issue of Tennis Week magazine. Since 2007, he has been a great weekly columnist for the Tennis Channel website.
Steve Flink is a tennis historian, following in the footsteps of the great Bud Collins. He has made his own legacy.
In 1999, Steve wrote an excellent book called The Greatest Tennis Matches of the 20th Century. It really is a treat, if you haven't read it, to go back and revisit of the greatest matches ever from Bill Tilden, Suzanne Lenglen, to Rafa and Roger. He brought these matches alive with his enthusiasm, and his understanding of the historical impact of those clashes.
He also did television commentary for ESPN in the '80s and the '90s. Steve really did a good job an air except when he was critical of my weak second serve. I would give him a hard time about it (laughter).
Steve would also be at my press conferences. It wouldn't be uncommon for him to interrupt and correct me when I had not described something accurately in my record. When I did not know one of my stats, trust me when I say that, that was very frequent, my eyes always darted right to him. His instant recall of matches over a long period of time was much, much better than my own.
I remember a press conference at Wimbledon when I was asked one question after another about my career. Steve must have jumped in at least a dozen times to stop me and set the record straight. It got to a point where I was almost afraid to open my mouth.
I, like many in the tennis world, have valued my friendship with Steve over the years. We've been friends actually for 44 years. Tennis was different back then. These days with all the agents and the formality between players and reporters, it would be almost impossible for this kind of a journalist‑player friendship to develop. When Steve and I started with our careers, the same barriers between journalists and players did not exist.
Steve Flink is being inducted today for a lifetime of making tennis the center of his world. He has a wonderful wife Frances who, thank God, was never suspicious, and always patient when I called in the middle of the night or all hours of the day asking for advice on my tennis columns, my commentating. Thank you for being understanding. You kind of had to like me from the start, I guess.
His two children Jonathan and Amanda and his father Stanley are here today to share this honor with him. This guy, he may look like Clark Kent, but his journalism and passion for the game is Superman like. I've never met a more humble man with such integrity. He has really earned this honor. I am so honored and privileged to be here today to welcome him into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
STEVE FLINK: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. I'd like to let you know at the outset I plan to follow what are the essential three Bs of speech making: be brief, be bright, be gone (laughter).
I must thank Chrissie for her eloquent remarks. She was an exemplary champion, celebrated for her willpower, unwavering concentration, impeccable ball control, but Chrissie's memory of what she accomplished was, as she just acknowledged, a little bit cloud. I think it was incumbent upon me to interrupt on a regular basis to just set the record straight whenever she fielded questions about her career. Someone had to clarify those facts. It was up to me.
The reason I think her memory was clouded was that she was a champion focused on the future. She didn't dwell on her achievements, how many titles she'd won, when she last played a particular opponent, or any individual accomplishment. That was understandable. I was the historian, but she was a great player, and she knew what her priorities were, and that was to always think of the next major.
But I do appreciate very much the mutual respect we've always had for each other, and I thank her for coming today.
I would not be at this podium right now without the unflagging support of four men who took me graciously under their wings, three of these individuals, Herbert Warren Wind, Ted Tinling and Jack Kramer are no longer with us, although I am convinced that they are here in spirit today.
Wind was this nation's preeminent golf writer, we became close friends when he covered the US Open tennis every year. He was my biggest booster.
Tingling was ubiquitious, a renowned dress designer and later chief of protocol at the Grand Slam events. Down through the vast corridors of time, Ted was an unimpeachable tutor for me and for many others.
I met Kramer in 1972 when I was working as a statistician at CBS, he was a commentator. He in my view was the man of the 20th century because of his multifaceted and far reaching roles in tennis. Jack told me frequently, Kid, I like your thinking a lot, I'll help you any way I can. And did he ever help, much more than I ever knew.
The same is true of my old friend Tony Trabert, former Hall of Fame president, champion player Davis Cup player, who I've known for more than 40 years.
Now I'd like to salute of couple of my fiercely steadfast allies through the years. This country's most multifaceted sportswriter, Scott Price of Sports Illustrated, and the distinguished Brad Faulkner, formerly of the Tennis Channel. They have often believed in me more than I believed in myself. Just by hanging around Price over the last couple of decades at the majors, my stock rose in my trade significantly. Scott has been my modern day Herbert Warren Wind.
These towering individuals did everything they could to enlarge my reputation. But I've had someone in my corner for all 65 years of my life who used his profound communicative skills to give me the best possible chance to succeed. My 93‑year‑old father, Stanley Flink, has been with me every single step of the way. Yes, give me a nice round of applause.
Let me add, I made a bit of a mistake right there. Let me call him 93 years young. But I would not have landed here without his guidance. He was an outstanding journalist and broadcaster working for Time and Life, writing on luminaries, including Marilyn Monroe, who once said he was the nicest reporter she ever knew.
He covered Kennedy and Nixon on the campaign trail and played doubles with none other than Bill Tilden in California less than a week before that legendary American died back in 1953.
My gregarious father introduced me to Pancho Gonzales, Stan Smith and many others. In 1969, he brought me around to the pressroom at Wimbledon to meet a man who would become an indispensable colleague throughout my career, the renowned Bud Collins.
I very seldom get the chance to publicly praise my father for the vital role he played in enhancing my career, but I very happily do so right now.
Meanwhile my wife Frances, son Jonathan and daughter Amanda have been pillars by my side as I pursued this tennis obsession. I married Frances in 1979, and she's been my Hall of Famer. Now a gifted artist, she's masterfully arranged our family life immaculately. Jonathan has admirably gone into the EMT field. Ten years ago, here in Newport, when Pete Sampras was inducted, I asked him to urge Jonathan to stop driving me bonkers by going for second‑serve aces.
Sampras looked at my son sternly and said, Give the other guy a chance to miss. Pete then nodded at me, thinking he'd succeeded. I asked my impish son later if he would change his audacious ways after listening to a champion he revered like no other. Jonathan said, Not a chance.
My daughter Amanda, now about to attend graduate school in France, she told me with characteristic sensitivity, she's envious a found a passion in tennis that has carried me with undiminished professional joy across more than four decades. Amanda would become exasperated as a kid when I would shout at the players and offer advice from the living room while watching sporting events on television. Dad, she would say, don't you understand they can't hear you.
What I do understand is the magnitude of this honor. Only nine previous people have previously been inducted here at least partially because they were writers. I learned immeasurably from many of them. John Barrett was a critical advisor. I joined forces alongside David Gray on daily sketches for the Wimbledon program, and worked for Gladys Heldman at World Tennis and Gene Scott at Tennis Week who both wrote penetrating editorials for years on end, imploring the game's movers and shakers to think out of the box.
I've been one fortunate fellow, witnessing the evolution of this sport from the mid '60s all the way up to today, from Rod Laver to Rafa Nadal, from Billie Jean King, to Serena Williams, from wood racquets to the current frames. Tennis is the ultimate test of character in sports that puts a premium not only on physical durability, but also mental toughness and emotional equilibrium. In essence, it is a contact sport.
My old friend John Roberts, the stylish former tennis correspondent for the Independent in London, told me recently, Steve, you have loved tennis longer than you can remember. You've expressed this passion through writing and broadcasting about the great and not so great at the major tournaments. Now here you are among the illustrious of the sport on an occasion that is one of the highlights of your life, receiving an honor which for you in all humility is like winning a Grand Slam championship.
Roberts got to the heart of my feelings with that assessment. I'm a journalist, first and foremost, but a part of me remains fundamentally and unabashedly a tennis fan. I stand here today immensely humbled, exhilarated and gratified by this ineffable accolade. Thank you very, very much.
TODD MARTIN: Congratulations, Steve.
Now please stand for The Netherlands national anthem in honor of Monique Kalkman van den Bosch.
¬†TODD MARTIN: To present Monique, I welcome to the stage her husband and long‑time coach, Marc Kalkman. Please let's turn our attention to Monique's inspiring career highlights.
¬† (Video Shown.)
MARC KALKMAN: That's always a good start (laughter).
I'd like to thank the International Tennis Hall of Fame for sustaining the history of this sport. Tennis is played in every corner of the globe, and here in Newport we recognize all those who had great impact in our sport.
I applaud the fact that the International Tennis Hall of Fame does everything to bring it to all supporters of the sport, for example, by the interdiction of the class of 2017 in Melbourne, and a tribute at Roland Garros of Gustavo Kuerten just before the men's final. Guga has been a great example to many in the support of tennis.
Special thanks to the president of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Stan Smith, who most of us remember his outstanding skills on court. And for my son, a younger generation, he thinks he is the designer of the shoes.
Second person I'd like to thank for this invitation at the induction day is Todd Martin. Under his guidance, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has created a new dimension to the great tennis organization, and brings history of the sport to the fans.
I was asked to introduce one of the greatest wheelchair tennis players of all times, Monique Kalkman, Mo Mo. Each and every day has a story. Each and everybody has a dream. Some people chase their dreams, and some chase their dreams even if disrupted by events.
In the early '90s you met Monique on a tennis court, what started with an occasional training session close to Amsterdam quickly became a full‑time program. I became a part of Monique's dream. Finally she got her package deal in 1992.
Nowadays wheelchair top tennis players can concentrate on tennis only, while in the early days it had to be combined with a regular job. Setting your goals and being able to combine those two things is and has been an inspiration for many.
One needs a lot of dedication, long days, 7:30 training, 10:30 work for the employer, 6:00 back on the court, fitness room. Determination, even in the time of change, the belief and courage to stick to your plan. Devotion, never a dull day on court, with a smile and hard work, you see the love of the game. Discipline, a thousand forehands, a thousand backhands, a thousand volleys, a thousand serves, a thousand returns, and then lunch.
Mo Mo has all those ingredients. As a friend once told us, If you are a world champion in one thing, you're probably going to be a world champion in many things. And due to that, you are.
At the end of your career, in the year you say farewell to the sport as a competitor, you help the next generations, the likes of Esther Vergeer and Sonia Peters, to name a few. This shows your love of the game.
As ambassador of the International Tennis Federation, you were able to give back to the sport you love.
Mo Mo, you trained many hours, played thousands of points, won many matches and tournaments in your career. You entered many tournaments and qualified for Paralympic Games, all to do with the goal setting and planning. One event you never planned, because you probably never anticipated the possibility of becoming a Hall of Famer.
Well, Mo Mo, today will be that day. A well‑deserved recognition of your part in the history of the sport we all love so much. Congratulations. I'm proud to be part of your dream. Thank you.
MONIQUE KALKMAN van den BOSCH: Wow. Luckily you're not wearing mascara like I am. I hope I keep it dry. Thank you, Marc. Thank you so much, International Tennis Hall of Fame.
It's an unbelievable, incredible honor to be here today. I am so proud and deeply honored and humbled at the same time to become part of this tennis family, and to join Kim, Andy, Steve and posthumously Vic Braden. Congratulations. You are such great champions, each in your own field of tennis.
You gave me many moments where I was able to admire you after my career, because you guys are much younger than I am, so I had time enough to admire you guys.
Especially, Kim, I admired your splits (laughter). But the dress party in your doubles match last week at Wimbledon, that beat everything. That was so hilarious.
How magic and powerful is tennis? I think the answer can be found right here at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. I was totally impressed and totally overwhelmed yesterday when I entered the museum. There is so much culture, so much history preserved in this place. This is by far more than I expected.
I'm so fortunate to have tennis in my life. It's been magic and powerful to me, as well. At the age of six, I picked up my first racquet. I was still running around the court. As a teenager, I looked up at tennis icons and role models like Chris Evert and like Martina Navratilova. They were my source of inspiration. They gave me my dream of becoming a top player. I wanted to be like them.
Thank you, Chris. That means the world to me.
But at the age of 14, when I was fighting cancer, it looked like that dream was shattered, that it was shattered to pieces. I went back on the court in my hospital chair, and my friends raced me around so I could play a rally on the court. But a match, there was no way I even thought about playing a match at that time. I thought I would never play again.
I wasn't aware of wheelchair tennis until Peter Seegers, my first Dutch coach, introduced me to my new heroes Brad Parks and Randy Snow. They brought over the game to Europe, and I was so impressed how they raced around the court, when I was still sitting in my hospital chair, just getting out of it. I was so inspired by these guys driving their own chairs rather than being pushed around.
Thank you for that, for bringing wheelchair tennis, across the globe. Thank you for that, Brad.
I was so impressed how that time went by in the beginning. After six years of table tennis, I picked up my racquet again, and I went for wheelchair tennis, the love of my life.
Early in my career, I traveled to California for the first time. Six weeks to train and to play tournaments. I was so excited. I arrived at LAX on the other side of the world on my own, and I picked up my huge fancy hire car and off I went, on my own, proud, committed, and eager to learn from the best: U.S. wheelchair tennis players.
I wanted to be the best wherever it would take me and whatever it would take. Behind the wheel on the six‑lane American highway, I was still exploring the new car, how everything worked, how the hand controls operated, until a traffic jam all of a sudden popped up in front of me. I pushed the hand controls as hard as I can, but instead of braking, I accelerated because the pedals work opposite of how they work in Europe.
In a split second, I pulled the car onto the hard shoulder, overtake three cars, and pull it back on the highway (laughter). I continued my trip. But still I feel on top of the world. My heartbeat was 180, I think. But those seconds probably were symbolic for the flow of my tennis life.
You're passionate about a dream, there are highs, there are lows, there's success, but there's also failure, and there's celebration, there's disappointment, there's resilience, there's dedication. But the glass is always half full, especially when you're a daughter of a bar owner (laughter).
Always aiming for gold, but be thankful with less. That was important to me. And tennis has made me who I am today, and for that I am so grateful.
I want to thank my family, who is represented here by my elder sisters. They were always there to support me, encourage me, and to taxi me wherever the sport would take me before I was that danger on the road on my own.
Justin, you've not been a part of your father's and mum's joint tennis years, but we already liked you by that time as well. But I hope you get a good impression now of what tennis means to us. You mean the world to us, darling.
To my coaches and trainers, a big thank you. But Marc, you especially. We made the biggest part of this journey together. First as a coach, later as a husband, the journey full of learning, laughing, and love. Marc, you meant and will always mean everything to me.
When I met Todd in Australia in the beginning of the year, he told me this induction is going to feel like a wedding. I think you're right, Todd.
So, Marc, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, yes, I do want to play mixed doubles with you for the rest of my life (laughter).
TODD MARTIN: Learning, laughing and love, sounds like a pretty good package deal you have there, Marc.
Congratulations, Monique. So well deserved and so beautifully said.
I ask you again to stand to listen to the Hampton Academy Trio sing the Belgian national anthem in honor of Kim Clijsters.
¬†TODD MARTIN: Introducing Kim today, a fixture on the WTA Tour, and a coach of Kim from the age of 12, Carl Maes, please come to the stage. Let's take a moment to look at some of Kim's Hall of Fame career.
¬†CARL MAES: In 2012, this new Hall of Famer organized her own Thank You Games. In no time, she was able to fill 15,000 people in a stadium to say thank you to her fans. Today I think it is our turn to say thank you to Kim.
Most of you present here will know about her results, the four slams, the 41 WTA tournaments, and of course her infamous splits. So today I would like to introduce you to another side of Kim because she is not just a fierce competitor.
I would like to give you two fairly simple examples, two of many I could give. Kim runs, as you some of you might know, an academy in Belgium. What is great from somebody from her stature is that every new face is greeted and welcomed by her in this natural flair that only Kim can do.
If I don't introduce her to new people that walk in, it will be Kim herself who walks up and says, Hey, I'm Kim. People, without fail, children and parents, have gotten unbelievable admiration for this characteristic of a great champion.
Another example that I would like to give is taking you back to 2001, when Kim at the age of 18 was competing in the WTA Championships, and she was playing a ranked Sanchez‑Vicario. Up until five minutes before that she was rolling on the ground playing with the little dog of Arantxa. Subsequently, she beat her in straight sets on the court, and continued to play with the dog of Arantxa.
A new style of competitor was born, one with a human face. So, Kim, please never stop being that Kim.
I have been fortunate to know Kim from a very young age when she sometimes needed some direction. I vividly remember at the age of 13, when in order to give her some responsibility, I made her my co‑pilot to go and play a tournament in a foreign country. We ended up in the opposite side of that country in a city which was almost called the same name as where the actual tournament was held. They didn't have tennis courts, let alone a tennis tournament.
Many years later, she has traveled around the world, and she is now giving direction to other people. Nowadays, she's looking after her family, caring for friends, raising three beautiful children with her wonderful, loving husband Brian, and she has become a role model for young mothers with a career, and she's involved in plenty of charities.
I am sure that her belated father is looking down with content on her journey on and off the court.
As you get older in life, you start doing things for a different reason. Kim has reached a status where giving is more important than taking, where values are more important than victories, where making people better is more important than beating them, where you don't count your trophies, but you count the people who you love and trust.
So on behalf of myself, but I'm sure on behalf of all the people that have ever come across you, Kim, a profound thank you for the collateral beauty that you have given us during your career, and especially also after your career, for who you are and how you are.
Ladies and gentlemen, Kim Clijsters.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Thank you, Carl, very much. I really appreciate your kind words. I'm grateful for everything that you've done for me in my career, and that you're still doing for me now in our academy that we run. We try to send the passion that we have for tennis through to the next generation.
He's been not just only my coach, but also a family member, like a big brother. He was there in my life when my mother got sick when I was a teenager, when my father passed away. I feel very honored and happy and proud that we share these moments in our lives together. So thank you very much for this.
Well, this is an incredible moment for me and for my family, my husband's side of the family being here. But first of all, I would like to thank the International Tennis Hall of Fame. I'm very, very honored to be an inductee, and honored to join all the past inductees and my fellow members of the class of 2017, each of whom have left a major mark on our sport in distinct and unique ways.
Monique, you are a champion and incredible competitor. It's been so nice getting to know you personally in these last few days. Congratulations to you and your family.
Although I personally didn't know Vic Braden, it's incredible to see all that he did in such a very important area as instruction and research. I was able to meet his wife, and saw her walk around at the museum, get to see how emotional she got about this. This is why we do this. This is why I feel very honored to share these moments. So congratulations to the family of Vic, as well.
Steve, congratulations. The same holds true for writers like you. You bring sports to life for people all over the world. I'm listening to your speech, the way you talk. To me, it's very inspirational. I would like to learn as I'm maybe taking on a new role as a commentator for tennis. Like Chrissie said, I would like to have a few chats with you later.
Andy, I have the tissue ready. We've known each other for a long time. We grew up together playing juniors, playing at the highest level. I remember as a teenager, early teenager, coming from a very small country of Belgium, and it was in Japan, we saw the American squad arrive. They were all dressed up in the colors of the country. They were talking English. They were loud, I remember (laughter). But there was this admiration immediately, and you stood out. You stood out because of your personality. That is something that over the years I've enjoyed seeing. I've missed it over the years.
I remember your great style of play, your interviews, your sarcastic answers in press conferences. They made me laugh and I loved them. So thank you for everything that you've brought to tennis, to my career. You've been an inspiration.
When I saw you win the 2003 US Open, it was a moment where I felt like, Oh okay, I've lost a couple of finals, I'm going to try to work hard like Andy and make a dream come true.
I have to admit there were a few matches in his career that I've cheered against him. I was dating a fellow tennis player at the time (laughter). There are a few matches that I wasn't really going for you, but...
I hope you forgive me. But when I heard about us sharing this moment together, I have to say I couldn't be any more happy that I was able to share this moment with you. It's so nice to see where you're at, with your family, as a father. It's an honor for me. Thank you very much.
Tennis has been so great to me. It has given me so many opportunities, and it's taught me so many lessons, lessons that are applicable both on and off the court, lessons I often talk with the students at my academy. I would like to describe them in eight words: dedication, caring, optimism, patience, respect, sacrifice, tolerance, passion. Of those eight words, there are really three that are the most important to me and to all that's happened and that has brought me to this special place here today.
The first is optimism. That is having the right attitude. As you deal with adversity and negative moments, it's important to stay positive. I'm not just talking about tennis, but in life overall.
The second is dedication, taking the time to really devote yourself to whatever you want to accomplish, fitness, mentally being ready, all the extra effort that it takes to succeed. That has been very important to me as well.
Finally, but most importantly, comes passion. You can be optimistic, you can be dedicated, but most of all you have to bring that special energy and desire to anything that you do. Everyone that has stood on this stage before me and will stand here after me has had a passion for the sport of tennis. I found mine when I was five years old, and I dedicated to‑‑ I'm dedicated to pass it on to the next generation.
Those three words are so meaningful. I've learned them through my upbringing, my experiences, from the many matches I've played, the many people I've known and met through tennis.
There are a few others that I would like to thank. My father who passed away in 2009. I was actually sitting there, with the heat burning on us, he probably would have been sitting right under the roof right there because he didn't like the sun. He was a world class athlete and I learned so much from him, about so many things every day, big things and little things. I know a day like today would have made him very, very proud, and would have been very meaningful for him.
The same holds true for my mother. She's not here today, but she played a major role in my development as a human being and as an athlete. She showed me even when life doesn't go as you would like it to go, you have to hang in there, and good things will happen. She was a gymnast, so maybe it's true that being able to perform the splits is genetically acquired (laughter). Thank you for everything, mom.
My American family and friends who made the trip down to be a part of this special day. My father‑in‑law, Richard, who has been a big fan from the first day I met him, or even probably before I knew him. Brian and I only had just met, weren't really sure where our relationship was going. All of a sudden I get a phone call, and Richard, my father‑in‑law, wanted to come and watch me play at Wimbledon. I was like, Okay. This is a different way of dealing with things. But he's been a great support.
My mother‑in‑law, Mary, she's an incredible person, a great grandmother. I feel very lucky to have you in my life as a friend, as well, so thank you.
Nicole and Jeanine, Nicole has been traveling with me when I came back on tour after I had Jada. My husband and I took on this adventure. We couldn't have done it without your help. I trust all three of our kids now completely in your hands. You do an amazing job. So a huge thank you to you and for everything that you've done not just for me, but for my husband and our kids. Thank you.
My best friend Caroline is here today. She flew in all the way from Belgium to be here. Thank you, Caroline, for your support. I've known her since I'm 12 years old, I think. To have her here on this special day means a lot. She's given me the most belly laughs I can remember. She's always been there for me.
Thank you to Vanessa for being here, as well. Thank you.
Sam, he's not here today, but he was my osteopath and my fitness coach, my mentor, my go‑to guy for many years. Thank you for being you. I would have never been able to achieve all the things that I did without you. I look forward to all the many new projects that we have together.
Finally, I'm very excited to share this moment with my husband Brian, with Jada, Jack and Blake here today. They all mean so much to me. When Brian and I started this adventure, after we had Jada, it was amazing. Playing again and winning the US Open so early on, it was a unique experience. Jada is now nine years old, Jack is almost four, and Blake is eight months. But I'm so, so honored that I get to share this moment with them. This is really special, not just for me, but for all of us, so thank you.
So again, just to round it up, thank you to the International Tennis Hall of Fame for giving this humbling experience to me and to my family. We really appreciate it very much. Thank you to everybody who has come out here today. Thank you to tennis for making my dreams come true and for giving me so much. It's now our chance to give back. So thank you, everybody, very much.
TODD MARTIN: Now it's my pleasure to welcome one of the finest sports agents in the game. A long‑time industry leader and a dear friend of the late Vic Braden, Ray Benton.
¬†RAY BENTON: I had the privilege of working with Vic Braden for the last fourth years, including the last 15 years as his business partner.
True to Vic's commitment to inclusion, let's first of all acknowledge the wonderful International Tennis Hall of Fame led by Stan, John and Todd. Congratulations to the very accomplished inductees.
Vic would frankly be awed to be sharing the stage with Monique, Steve, Andy and Kim. He'd want to learn something about each one of you. Why do you like tennis? What makes your game effective? What frustrates you? How can we help you get better?
Vic would ask these questions because he was a teacher, a researcher, an innovator, a scientist, and a cinematographer, using high‑speed film to see what the human eye can't. He was a historian committed to preserving the rich history of the game in his work.
Vic appreciated the past, and at the same time was constantly seeking new ways to move ahead in the future. Moving us ahead with science, with passion, and always with humor.
I remember when a 60‑year‑old player told him about a national 90 and over championship. Vic replied, Terrific. You have 30 years to practice and get ready.
Vic was also the greatest student our sport has ever known. As a boy growing up in Michigan to his days traveling the world with the pros, his creation of the Jack Kramer Club, the Vic Braden Tennis College, Vic truly loved the game, and squeezed out every bit of knowledge he could.
As a student, Vic figured if he could explain the game's mysteries, everyone would benefit. If you made a commitment now to tennis, you'd be famous by Friday.
More than anything, Vic wanted everyone to learn, to improve, to be happy, and to laugh. Only Vic could explain the physics of topspin in a way that's both informative and entertaining. That was his gift to all of us.
So on behalf of Vic's wife Melody, his family, and all the millions he touched with his kindness, his wisdom, and his generosity, thank you for honoring Vic.
I'd like Vic's family to stand so we can acknowledge them.
TODD MARTIN: Thank you, Ray.
To help celebrate our final inductee, I welcome an old friend of many of ours, a trainer who once graced the locker rooms of the ATP World Tour everywhere, and a friend of Andy's, a trainer of Andy's, for a long time, and a great part of his spectacular career, please welcome Doug Spreen.
¬†DOUG SPREEN: Wow, this is an incredible occasion. First, congratulations to all the other inductees. This is just really such a special day. I am so honored to be able to say some words about my friend Andy Roddick.
I first met Andy in 2000 in Key Biscayne. I was working as an athletic trainer for the ATP. Andy was kind of playing his first big‑time pro tournament. I had heard a lot about this Roddick kid, so I ventured out for a second‑round match to check him out courtside.
Now, in that match, he was playing a guy by the last name of Agassi. Needless to say, it did not go well for Andy. He lost in straight sets. But as advertised, Andy was pretty good. He had a really, really big serve, and a really good forehand. The backhand was a little shaky.
At that point in Andy's career, he had not yet blessed us with some of his fashion sense, so he was not yet wearing the bright colored visor with the spiked hair puffing out the top. Something that he could not do now (laughter). But you could tell that Andy Roddick had the 'it' factor. You knew he was going to be very good.
There is no doubt that Andy is a Hall of Famer. The numbers say so. The number of matches he won, the tournaments he won, the last American to win a Grand Slam tournament, a year‑end No.1, nine straight years as a top‑10 player, a run of remarkable consistency at the top of the game.
He was a two‑time Olympian, and a star for the United States Davis Cup team. Davis Cup and Andy just fit. Davis Cup brought out the best in Andy. He was a true team player and a true team leader. He helped lead the U.S. to the 2007 Davis Cup title, one of my favorite memories.
Andy ranks second all time for the United States in singles victories in Davis Cup competition. But there's a stat that I really like that I think says so much about Andy the player, Andy the competitor, and Andy the Davis Cup star.
Twelve times Andy played a Davis Cup match that would give the United States the third win of the weekend, and send the team on to the next round. Andy won that match 12 times, 12 for 12 in some of the highest pressure situations. Not too bad for the team closer.
Andy played the game of tennis the way it should be played. He played with enthusiasm, pride, passion, and insatiable desire to win, and he played with great effort and with great heart. And, yes, there was that serve, Andy played with power.
You always knew when you were at a Roddick match. There was always a big crowd. The sound of the ball coming off of his strings was just a little different. And when you were at a Roddick match, you knew one thing was for sure: he was going to sweat a lot (laughter). Case in point right now.
Andy was entertaining. You knew when he was happy and excited on the court. And, yes, you knew when he was upset and frustrated. You could often tell if he was upset or frustrated because there might just be a couple broken racquets by the chair on the side of the court. You knew when he was fighting hard on the court. And, yes, you knew when he was not happy with the chair umpire.
I do miss this part. Andy's exchanges with the chair umpires were far better than any political debate I have heard in a long, long time (laughter). And I knew, and I think most people knew, that every time Andy walked on the court, you would get his best effort.
Andy also showed us how to handle the good along with the bad. He would fight on the court and never give his opponent an inch, but he always won with humility and was gracious in defeat. No matter the emotional high or low, Andy always showed respect to his opponents. And after some of the toughest defeats, Andy showed unbelievable character and true sportsmanship.
There are many things that make a Hall of Famer. Andy's work ethic and preparation are a big reason he is here today. Andy never cheated himself, or took any shortcuts. Andy made tennis a 365‑day‑a‑year job. He worked really, really hard.
He did what you hope every gifted athlete would do: he did everything he could to maximize his abilities. His work on the practice court, at the track, and in the gym were all to make himself the best athlete and tennis player he could possibly be. And that part always made me really, really proud.
Andy has become a Hall of Famer in an even more important way. Andy took some really good advice as a young player and started the Andy Roddick Foundation. With a lot of hard work and help from his mother, Blanche, the Foundation got its start. To date, the Andy Roddick Foundation has raised well over $20 million.
It helps thousands of children and their families in and around the Austin area. It truly helps those that need some help. Andy and his Foundation have become an example in Austin of how to do things the right way.
For all the great things that Andy has done in his tennis career, the work of his Foundation is far more important and will be ongoing. It is a legacy that he, his mother, and everyone who has been a part of from the start, should be so very proud of.
On a very personal note, I was lucky as an athletic trainer to work for Andy for almost a decade. He is truly a humble and great person. I am so glad that I got to play a small role in his career. I was able to watch Andy go from that teenager I met in Key Biscayne to watch him become a man, a husband, and now a father.
During those years on the road, there were many great times, and there were some very difficult times. But I will always remember laughing and watching this guy compete each and every day to the best of his ability.
For me, the best thing that came out of those years was a true and great friendship. I am so glad to have Andy as a friend. Andy, I love you like a brother, and I am so honored to introduce you as a member of the 2017 class of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
ANDY RODDICK: This is going to be a test for my sweat (laughter). Thank you, Doug. Thank you, everybody at the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
For the better part of a year since Todd and I met in the office up here, he would let me know that I was going to be nominated for the International Tennis Hall of Fame. I've been trying to connect the pieces. I've asked myself how the seven, eight, nine‑year‑old version of myself, who was this insane tennis fanatic, and the people inside of those walls are super heroes to me, have become my reality.
So get comfortable (smiling).
It's an extraordinary honor. It fills my heart to be standing in front of you. To be a Hall of Famer is a dream come true. I know I'm here. I know they've given me the jacket. It's too late to take it back. But I'm not sure it will ever be real in my mind.
The best part for me is sharing it with my close friends, tennis fans, my team and my family. As I said to them when I learned I had been voted in, I said, We're all getting into the Hall of Fame.
As I mentioned, I met with Todd a year ago. I got to be honest, I'm surprised that I'm standing here as a first‑ballot Hall of Famer. You can look at the numbers of the people who are in, I knew I had a shot, but to be honest, I don't know that I was that concerned about when it happened, I hoped it would.
When I knew that Kim Clijsters was the other person being voted on, and obviously she was going to get in, it really made me want to get in this year to share this weekend with Kim. I have a very simple way of putting it. If you have a problem with Kim Clijsters, I blame you (laughter).
In our careers, Dougy mentioned unfortunate wardrobe choices I wish I could still make, we all have moments we're not proud of. We all have ‑‑ you know, throwing things and saying words we probably shouldn't have said. Kim didn't. You're really just showing off from the word 'go'. You never made a mistake. Maybe you did. Maybe I'll ask Brian about it.
I would like to congratulate the other inductees also. Mr. Braden, I watched Vic videos growing up. So I'm really happy that he could be here in spirit and represented by his great family.
Monique, just what an inspiration. Your story here today, I didn't know when the tears would come, but they came earlier than expected. It's amazing. You're a true inspiration to us.
Steve, tennis thrives, it's a family, we travel around the world. It's a selfish existence sometimes. At the end of it there's always this sense of family. We didn't spend much time together during my career, but then you land in Australia when they announce the inductees, we get to spend a little bit of time together. We speak the same language.
So I thank you all for making this such a great experience for me so far. Cheers to Mr. Braden, as well.
As all of us can truly attest, you don't get here alone. You need a lot of help. It takes a village. As I referenced before, it is a bet of a selfish existence. I was fortunate enough to have amazing people in the orbit of my career.
I was always appreciative, but that appreciation has grown as I've moved away from tennis. I realize they took years out of their lives and spent time away from their families to help me achieve my goal.
To Doug Spreen who introduced me. When you spend 260 nights eating together a year, you spend more time with Doug than you do family and your best friends, they eventually become your best friends.
But stim, shoulder, ice, wraps, all that time adds up. First you were a trainer, then a trainer and a friend, then a trainer‑friend‑therapist. I don't know how to define it. I'm appreciative and thankful you were here to introduce me today.
To my brother John, you helped make the tennis world smaller for me. When you're a kid, you're nine and ten years old, the tennis world and these pros, it just seems so out of reach. Having the opportunity to see John on a junior national team, see him play Kalamazoo, to get to go to the junior slams to watch your brother, it was easier to deal with when I got there. Seeing the hours of training. I had already seen a lot of these hurdles that are massive. You were my first tennis super hero.
Karen Planter, I'm not sure where you're sitting, but I owe you, like, years of sleep. You can't buy that on a gift card. You'd lose in Beijing, you'd call her at 3:00 in the morning. Basically, okay, I messed up here, can you fix my life for the next week, make sure I know where I'm going? So I thank you.
To my coaches, and I've had a lot of coaches. It's what happens when you're not very talented. BG is here today somewhere. I'm not sure exactly where. I'm surprised we haven't heard him. There he is.
What a tennis mind. The way you're able to simplify terms, make them within grasp very quickly. I wouldn't be here without you. If you ever get over that shyness problem, you'd be a great coach.
Dean Goldfine, I want to talk less about the on‑court stuff because I learned from you there, but I learned more from watching you away from the tennis court. You were a model for me for a long time. I think the world of you.
I have Connors written, but I'm talking about him later.
Lance Hooton, my strength coach, who wasn't on the road with us, didn't need the credit. It was just pulling up to Club Field or Travis Track, wherever those terrible places were where you made me work out. A lot of sweat equity involved. You're the man behind the scenes.
I don't miss traveling. I don't miss a lot of things about the tour. This is kind of the weird psychosis of me. I drive by a track at 7:30 in the morning, and I miss that. I miss the structure and I miss our days together. I appreciate you.
Larry, if I had to start playing again tomorrow, I'd beg you to coach me all over again. A lot of coaches will take what they did well, and they try to put that on their player. That's their specialty.
You worked with a lot of different people. You worked with a lot of different personalities. McEnroe, Rios, Henman, Gonzales, people that came in, people that stayed back, people that were cerebral, people that were nuts. Was that funny (laughter)?
You were always able to look at tennis through the player's eyes. It was a real honor being around you.
Phil Myers, my father's business partner, my de facto business coach. A lot of cautionary tales about the pitfalls of athletes. Phil has helped protect me from so many of those. I thank him.
It's obvious the things that tennis has given me. What's not obvious is how the legends of the game have shaped how I view the world. It's touched every part of my life. Growing up a tennis fan was a lot of fun. It was also an education.
Absolute icons of our sport that were never scared to stand for something they believed in, from Martina, to Arthur, to Andre, to Billie Jean King, Roger's work with UNICEF. There are a million other examples. But tennis does not get the credit it deserves for the social changes that it's helped curate over the years.
The lessons keep being taught. I've been around Rod Laver a couple times this year, in the vacuum of the Hall of Fame process, and I dare you to find a more humble icon in any industry. He's just a great representation of everything that tennis is. It's been real fun to get to spend time with him.
American men's tennis. It was my greatest responsibility, along with James and Mardy, who are here today. The toughest thing about my career was following the giants of American tennis. It motivated me to work as hard as I possibly could in their very, very long shadows. I took the responsibility of taking the torch that they tried to pass, and take very seriously what they built every day of my career. I was never going to live up to those guys. I'm thankful for their successes because it was directly responsible for any success that I had. It gave this childhood tennis fanatic a lifetime of memories. Most people don't get to have personal memories with their heros.
1989, the quarterfinals in the French Open, Michael Chang and Lendl. I look at you because you know everything about every match ever (laughter). Just to give you an example of kind of the connectivity of how I view tennis, then somehow it became a reality. The first match I ever watched was Chang‑Lendl, hit the underhand serve and everything. Michael Chang cramped in that match, ended up winning. That's when I knew I was going to win Roland Garros (laughter). I actually wrote 'pause for laughter'.
Fast forward to 12 years later. 2001, I'm playing my first main draw in Roland Garros, I go up against Michael Chang. Fifth set, young kid is cramping again, but it's me. We're at the net shaking hands. He's giving me advice on how to overcome cramps. He won the tournament, I lost the next round.
Johnny Mack I've gotten to know a little bit. Even though he's a bit of recluse, and you don't hear from him much these days (laughter), it's been a bunch of fun playing against him on the Power Series Tour the last couple years. I get a sly little grin when he does something amazing with the tennis racquet. He's also told me what I should have done in my own career to be dominant. I should have played guys 25 years older (laughter).
I got to know Pete Sampras pretty well, right? They don't know that that's not easy. I snuck into the players lounge at the US Open in 1991 where they would take the trash out, no one was paying attention to credentials, I found my way in. If you're an eight‑year‑old and you look like you know what you're doing, I guess you don't pose much of a security threat. I got to play video games with him. I didn't say a word, I was so scared. That was a great memory.
Fast forward 11 years later, I'm on a Davis Cup team with him. Who gets to do that?
It is last year we were flying to an event together. We're on a small little plane and he couldn't go anywhere, so I had hip trapped. I got to talk to him for an hour about the way he viewed tennis, matchups, what he thought about today, what he thought about the guys he was playing against, what his special sauce was for being able to throw down a 127 ace, not thinking about it. Those are the moments that I just loved over the course of my career. The matches, tournaments, those are all great, but getting to know your heroes is another thing.
Andre Agassi, practice sessions when I was 17 years old. Unbelievable ability to put complex issues into very short sentences. I was complaining about the heat one time in Australia. He was like, You only got to feel cooler than one guy.
All right (laughter).
He was the inspiration for our foundation. He let me ask him a bunch of questions. I asked him what his biggest regret was, not knowing at the time that might have been a loaded question. He said he didn't start his early enough, and off we went.
Jimmy Connors. I watched him at the US Open. We were flying over, this is for my ninth birthday, the same one I snuck in the players lounge. The matches are still going on at 1:00 in the morning. I was going to go out and party in New York, but... past my bedtime. But I remember seeing the lights on. I just couldn't believe what the stadium looked like. If it's that big when you're flying over in a plane, I can't imagine what it's being like when you're down there. That was the match he beat Patrick.
Fast forward, we're making a run to the finals in the '06 US Open, he's telling me to use the crowd. Let them be a part of it. The master of the US Open was trying his best to pass it down. It was a surreal moment.
My good friend Jim Courier. He's probably the player I most identified with because we both had horrible backhands. He agreed with my logic that it's not wrong if you're correct. We were up against the Mt. Rushmore of our sports. We were grinders, we worked hard and we tried hard to figure it all out. I consider myself lucky to lean on him for very, very, very frank advice. Thank you, Jim.
So 1992, Switzerland plays the USA in the Davis Cup Final. I think we won some raffle at our club and we got to go. That changed my life forever. Agassi, Sampras, McEnroe, Courier. Sampras and McEnroe didn't play singles.
The best Davis Cup team of all time. It began a love affair. James, Mardy, Bob, Mike, Mardy, Sam, John, Robby, we were all on this ride together. It culminated in us achieving a dream in 2007. Also created a lifetime of friendships. I appreciate you guys so much, your support. I'm happy we got to do it together. Patrick and Jim, thank you for being our captains. An apology to all of the practice partners.
Mardy, some people you know in juniors, some people you travel with for a bit. People come and people go. You lose touch with people when you retire. Mardy has been there through all of it. We shared a lifetime of tennis. Been pretty fun, hasn't it?
The lighter side of it. Just to give you kind of an understanding of how tennis dominated my everyday existence when I'm eight, nine years old. I bought my mother, I think I was seven years old, I bought her a Chrissie Evert tennis card for Christmas. She still has it. At the dinner last night, Chrissie spends time, spending time with my mother and brother talking. It was a surreal time that was awesome. It kind of connected it. I still don't believe that this is all real.
I made all the unfortunate wardrobe choices right with Andre when I was nine. Maybe a little bit of foreshadowing. Found a T‑2000 at my neighbor's garage sale for four bucks. He didn't know what it was. I realized that was my first no‑brainer investment opportunity. Hitting thousands of balls inside our garage against imaginary versions of Becker, Edberg, Lendl, being undefeated against them. Thought the Pro Tour would be a bit easier.
Spending summers trying to win lunch from adults at Caswell Tennis Center in Austin, almost winning a club tournament with Millie Darymple (phonetic) when I was seven and she was 79 (laughter). She was complaining about the stamina late in the day. I told her to suck it up, no excuses (laughter).
At Christmas, it was pretty much a pass/fail course on how I judged gifts. They got a pass if they were related to tennis. Harshly, they ran the risk of being a big fat fail if they weren't. I was probably a little too direct with my opinions. It started very early.
I'd be remiss if I didn't take the opportunity to talk about some future Hall of Famers who have been so important to me. I got to watch two girls named Venus and Serena before the rest of the world. Seeing what they've turned into, people see them now, probably looks easy for them a lot of the time. I watched those two practice five and six and seven hours a day as a kid. They believed in their destiny. They also knew what it might take to get there. All the while, people would whisper about how they couldn't make it without playing tournaments. Its hype, craziness. How would they ever learn grit or learn how to compete. Sometimes it's important to learn from what we didn't know.
I can't wait to see Serena become a mother. I can't wait to watch them play in the Wimbledon final in 2030 (laughter).
'95 Orange Bowl, World Championship. Dave Martin was the No.1 American kid. He's the kind of guy who had a beard when he was 11. He was seeded No.1. He was going to walk through the tournament. All of us other Americans who would lose in the quallies, first and second round would watch Dave's matches afterwards. Third round he came up against a skinny little kid who went through qualifying. Dave wins the first set no problem, all good, go America. Loses the second. Loses the third set. I'm convinced that I just watched the biggest upset in tennis history. Could not believe it.
It was the first time I saw Roger Federer play.
I can't believe the level of tennis that I got to see in my career. The shots hit, the records that were broken, the records that continue to be broken. Thanks to Murray, Novak, Roger and Rafa for playing the game at a higher level than it's ever been played. It sucked being in your vacuum at times. I still consider myself lucky. I got to guard Jordan, I went the distance with Ali, I pitched to Babe Ruth. I feel like I know what it must have been like to watch Picasso. I saw it all. I won a couple times, not a lot, but a couple.
I'm proud to say that no other sport has benefited from having such great people at its leaders. The big four guys really pissed me off most of the time when I played them. But I'm absolutely proud to have my life and career associated with such quality individuals.
Now is the hard part. There are some people who were as invested in my life and success as anybody whoever could be, who aren't here today. My agent Ken Meyerson was as loyal as anyone has ever been to me. Ken passed away in October 2011. At that point I had never had anyone close to me pass away before. It rocked me. I miss Ken every day. I'm sure a lot of you have a story about Ken. Some might be good, some are definitely bad. The majority of them are most likely hilarious.
So happy that Ken's wife Claudia and their beautiful, intelligent daughter could be here today. He would have absolutely loved to have been here. It doesn't feel right without him. I hope he can still see it.
My family are workers in every sense of the word. Humble beginnings on a farm in Wisconsin. Lawrence had it pretty tough. John had it a little less tough. I was lucky. I was the spoiled baby who had every opportunity. I also knew the cost of those opportunities, not in a financial sense, though that's definitely part of it. I was always aware of sweat equity, all of those minor moments and decisions that could potentially lead to a major moment.
My parents busted their asses for us. My mother Blanche literally got in our car at 5:00 a.m. on most days. It was a long day of different school drop‑offs, pick‑ups, tennis practice here, some sort of other lesson there, different locations all across Austin, juggling everyone's ridiculous schedules, breakfast, lunch, dinner. To be honest, it's the kind of thing you completely take for granted as a kid.
Mom, I hope you know how much it's meant to Lawrence, John and me. You always put us first. We're not here without you and we love you.
Some of you don't know that my father Jerry died suddenly on August 8th of 2014. It was the toughest day of my life. He was a man who always invested in the long game of respect. He didn't need you to like him in a given moment. If he thought a lesson was worth teaching, he would accept the temporary scar tissue it might create. Every couple of months now I smile to myself because I just figured out why he did something the way he did. Maybe it took fatherhood for me to understand the methods.
Although he's gone, I can tell you how he would have acted today. He wouldn't have been the center of attention, he wouldn't have needed the credit. He would have been cruising around the periphery of these events quietly, most likely holding my mom's purse. He would have been proud. He would have taken it all in.
He would have enjoyed conversations with most of you (laughter). He would have waited for a quiet moment with just of two of us to tell me how proud he was of me. Not so he could get a big emotional moment or a cool photo op, it would have been meant the world to me to know he approved of the way my life turned out. I would have loved hearing it. It won't happen, but I stand here knowing he would have been proud and satisfied. He wasn't an easy man to satisfy.
I wish you would have met Hank. That's probably the hardest part for me. I don't know how to express the love I feel for that little dude. I've experienced emotions in the last two years I didn't know I had.
My wife Brooklyn, most people don't know you're kind of nuts. You're my partner in crime. In a life full of good fortune, being around you has been by far the luckiest part. I'm a better human for us having met ten years ago.
What started with me stalking you has progressed to marriage and kids. Who would have guessed. Maybe it wasn't stalking. I call it persistence. People don't actually know that I wrote Legend's song All of Me. I let him sing it and he takes credit for it, tours, wins Grammy's. Chrissie thinks it's about her. Awkward.
Brooke, I don't know how you juggle it all. I see it every day and it still doesn't make any sense to me. You're an unreal artist, businesswoman, mother, wife, sister and friend. You hear a lot of guys who find it very tough to walk away from professional sports. You're the reason why my personal transition into a quasi normal, everyday life has been gratifying and full.
Hank will someday realize how lucky he is. Our daughter that's coming will also realize she has the best mother on earth. Simply, thank you for being you.
I want to thank the International Tennis Hall of Fame, firstly for making the criteria for first ballot induction a lot tougher for after the year I was voted in (laughter). Todd, John, Stan, Diane, the team have been amazing. There have been so many great moments over the last year since Todd secretly told me in the office that I was up for induction. I thank you. I look forward to many more years and memories together here at the Hall of Fame.
I'm not the best of all time. I'm not going to win Wimbledon. I'm not the best of my generation. I'm not the most well‑behaved. I'm not the most polished. I'm also never going to take this honor for granted. I'm never going to forget those who paved the way before us. I'm never going to forget the innocent parts of this game we all love.
Thanks to my friends who are always there during the laughter and the tears, my team who gave me so much of themselves, to my now peers at the Hall of Fame for voting me into this esteemed club. You'll never know how much it means to me, but please know your support is appreciated. Most importantly, the tennis fans around the world for making this game so important on a global level.
I may not be a lot of things, but from this day forward, I'm never be anything less than a Hall of Famer. I thank you from the deepest parts of my heart.
TODD MARTIN: What a day. On behalf of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, I want to welcome you to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. You are and forever will be, along with Vic, the class of 2017. Now it's a tradition that the new Hall of Famers take a walk around the court so the fans here at the Hall of Fame can welcome you as you should be welcomed.
Thank you for coming out today.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports