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July 21, 2018
Newport, Rhode Island
JOHN ARNHOLD: On behalf of the Board of Governors and the staff of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, I'd like to welcome all of you.
Today is going to be a very momentous day, celebrating the great champions who have made tennis history is core to the Hall of Fame's mission. Today we are delighted to do so by welcoming our new Hall of Fame inductees.
I'd like to recognize the International Tennis Hall of Fame executive board and Board of Governors, dedicated individuals who are committed to the hall, to our mission to preserve and promote tennis history, and to support the efforts to expand the Hall of Fame's reach and impact throughout the world.
I'd like to thank you all for your service and I'd like you please to stand and be acknowledged.
Our ceremony today would not be possible without the support of the International Tennis Hall of Fame's corporate partners who provide vital support that is critical to accomplishing our mission. Our thanks to Dell Technologies, BNP Paribas, Fila, Fidelity, Chubb and Brooks Brothers, who provide our Hall of Fame jacket, very handsome.
Additionally we thank Tennis Channel for its year-round support and coverage of the Hall of Fame's most compelling stories.
We have a lot to celebrate today. I'd like to thank you all for being here, and please enjoy our 2018 induction ceremony. Thank you.
BRETT HABER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to beautiful Newport, Rhode Island. Thanks so much for being here. It is my honor to welcome you to the 2018 International Tennis Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
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 off the court.
Today we honor two remarkable champions: Helena Sukova of the Czech Republic and Michael Stich of Germany.
These two remarkable champions are individuals whose career accomplishments and personal characteristics of perseverance, integrity, and passion put them among the best in our sport's history. Very shortly they will become Hall of Famers.
To help celebrate this achievement, as does happen every year, numerous Hall of Famers from previous classes have come home to Newport. Those Hall of Famers are seated on the stage behind me. Would you please allow me to introduce them as they return to Newport.
We start with 17 Grand Slam title winner, a fine singles player and doubles player. From the class of 2010, Mark Woodforde.
This man 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 in Indian Wells, California. From the class of 2013, Charlie Pasarell.
She is a 12-time major doubles champion, twice a Grand Slam singles finalist, ranked No. 3 in the world, and one of our sport's trailblazers in the area of gender equity and open tennis. From the class of 1966, the great Rosie Casals.
This is truly a special year for our next guest. 50 years ago this Hall of Famer won the French Open title at what was the first major tournament of the open era. It was one of her two major singles titles, six major titles overall. From the class of 2003, Nancy Richey.
This man won seven major titles, including the US Open singles in 1971, and the Wimbledon singles in 1972. He served American tennis as Davis Cup stalwart and the Olympic coach for the United States in 2000. He is now the president of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, your kids know him as the guy on that really cool shoe, we know him as so much more. From the class of 1987, the great Stan Smith.
Next to Stan is a former world No. 1, a four-time major champion, winning twice in Australia, twice more at Roland Garros. He was a member of two Davis Cup championship teams for the United States, now serves as the U.S. Davis Cup captain. From the class of 2005, Jim Courier.
Our next legend traveled quite a ways this weekend to welcome a new Hall of Famer from his native Czech Republic, Wimbledon champion, two-time French Open champion, class of 1990 Hall of Famer, Jan Kodes.
Just last year this Belgian superstar was inducted, four times a major champion in singles, two more in doubles, No. 1 in the world in both disciplines. From the class of 2017, it's Kim Clijsters.
Kim's classmate from the class of 2017, author, journalist, Steve Flink.
This Aussie won 13 Grand Slam titles, including 11 mixed doubles majors, and all four in mixed in the calendar year 1967. From the class of 2010, Owen Davidson.
Finally, a three-time All-American at Yale, a U.S. Davis Cup player, and undefeated United States Davis Cup captain, he helped establish the ATP and revolutionized the way athletes conduct business. From the class of 2009, Donald Dell.
Those are our current Hall of Famers. Our two guests of honor will join this esteemed group shortly.
14-time major champion, Helena Sukova, and former world No. 2, and 1991 Wimbledon champion, Michael Stich. Welcome them to Newport as soon-to-be Hall of Famers.
We would also like to acknowledge at this time the leadership of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, who are endlessly committed to accomplishing the organization's mission of preserving and promoting tennis history, and celebrating its greatest champions.
Chairman of the board, John Arnhold, and CEO of the Hall of Fame Todd Martin, please rise and be recognized.
Now that they have risen, can we ask you all to please rise for the national anthem of the United States.
BRETT HABER: So here at the place where tennis history is celebrated every day, we'd like to take a moment to call attention to a major milestone. 2018, as you may know, marks the 50th anniversary of what might well be the most important occurrence in this sport's history, the creation of open tennis.
Prior to 1968, as you may remember, tennis was split into two worlds, amateurs and pros, each competing at different events for vastly different rewards. The players who competed as amateurs were not allowed to earn any prize money. These limitations led many players to leave the amateur ranking to turn professional.
Beginning in 1968, a dramatic change took place through the vision of many great leaders and players, the sport was finally unified. The dawn of tennis's open era brought the best players to the biggest stages. By 1970 the men and women have established their own professional tours and ranking systems, and fans followed in droves. Television broadcasts increased, more attention to the sport, sponsors came to the table, and best of all, the sport's popularity began to soar.
The revolutionary changes were put forth by visionary pioneers, several of whom sit on this stage behind me. They led directly to the dynamic global game that we know and love today. The Hall of Fame joins the entire tennis world in celebrating 50 years of open tennis and honoring the vision and sacrifice of the pioneers who helped usher in what is surely our sport's golden era.
Help us celebrate open tennis 50 years from now.
So as we celebrate this weekend, occasions and individuals, it is also a time to reflect and remember. In the one year since we last gathered here in Newport, the tennis world has lost four beloved Hall of Famers. Joins now as we remember those remarkable champions.
BRETT HABER: Kim Clijsters, join me at the podium. What are your memories from last year and how nervous were you when you stood at this podium?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I remember being very hot last year. I was sitting next to Andy. We were just wondering or hoping that I wasn't showing any sweat stains on my dress. He was worried about his shirt, maybe he should change shirts, he didn't bring another one. Those were the conversations we were talking about.
It was an immense honor. I can't describe how special it felt. Obviously I was nervous to give the speech, but also to see my pictures and some of my trophies and racquets in the museum next to the greatest tennis players who I admired when I was a little girl.
It's a very humbling experience and at the same time very nice to be able to share and become part of the Hall of Fame family.
BRETT HABER: They say at your wedding you're supposed to stop and take a mental picture. What would you tell Michael and Helena about taking in this experience today?
KIM CLIJSTERS: That's also one of the reasons why I'm back here now, to take the experience in the next year. I'm able to enjoy it a lot more as well. Come back next year and enjoy it. I'm very excited I get to listen to your speech and see you and your family enjoy this moment.
BRETT HABER: It is time now to bestow tennis's ultimate honor onto the class of 2018.
Our first inductee this year comes from a legendary Czech tennis family. Her mother Vera was a Wimbledon singles finalist in 1962. Her father Cyril was a leader in the Czech tennis community. Her brother Cyril, III, was also a world-class player and a U.S. open champion in doubles.
In honor of Helena Sukova, please rise for the national anthem of the Czech Republic.
BRETT HABER: To present Helena for induction, please welcome to the stage a winner of five major titles, including four mixed doubles titles with his sister Helena, ladies and gentlemen, Cyril Suk, III.
CYRIL SUK: Ladies and gentlemen, dear tennis friends, I have the honor to present my sister Helena.
Growing up next to my sister was not an easy task. She was older, smarter, and unfortunately taller (laughter). I was always looking up to her, not just metaphorically.
Any games we ever played, she always had to win. By the way, she was a terrible loser (laughter). I have to say that because she was a great competitor, that's why she became one of the best tennis players to ever play the game of tennis.
Helena was a hard-working professional with dignity and respect to the sport and to her opponents. She always wanted to win. She had a hunger in her eyes. That is the attribute that all the great champions have in common.
With her Grand Slam championships, with her Olympic medals, and her Fed Cup victories, she is one of the greatest ambassadors of Czech Republic and tennis itself.
If I should single one person who influenced Helena on her tennis career, I have to mention our late mom, Vera. Both of us would not be standing here without her kindness and tennis skills. Together with our dad, who was a tennis player himself, they made a perfect couple.
I will forever remember our family doubles battles in Prague at the local tennis club. I have to say Helena always won.
Ladies and gentlemen, Helena Sukova, the new Hall of Famer.
BRETT HABER: Ladies and gentlemen, right now Helena is receiving her Hall of Fame jacket from Jan Kodes. She has her Hall of Fame medal from Stan Smith.
Welcome for the first time as a Hall of Famer, Helena Sukova.
HELENA SUKOVA: A tough one, great to be here. Good afternoon, everybody.
I am very honored and proud to be standing here today in front of you all. This is by far the biggest occasion I have ever spoken at, including being the speaker of my psychology graduation classes on three occasions, speaking on behalf of all past graduates from the second-oldest university in the Czech Republic, celebrating the 70th anniversary of its reestablishment.
To be fair and speak deep in my heart, I have to start from the beginning. As you all know I come from Prague, Czech Republic, which originally is Czechoslovakia, where tennis is very popular. The interest and following for the game can even be compared to that of soccer and ice hockey, the two biggest sports in my country.
I am very proud to be part of the gallery of legends who have contributed to the success of our sport in both my country and around the world. However, on this big occasion, I would like to remember some of the most influential names from Czechoslovakia that made our sport so popular.
I truly see their role in my achievements being inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame today.
The history in my country began more than a hundred years ago. The oldest club celebrated its 125th anniversary this year. From these early days, I specifically would like to mention the Kozeluh brothers. Karel, being a professional and world champion and a Hall of Famer, and his brother Jan, who reached a top 10 world ranking.
Then in the '70s, Jan Kodes. I'm also very happy to say that Jan joins my team of friends here today.
In naming just a few from the men's side of our Czech history, I must also add the name of Ivan Lendl, the multiple Grand Slam singles champion whose forehand I tried to copy. These legends are Hall of Famers.
I stand here as a representative of women's tennis and the most important person for me is my mom Vera. Being a Wimbledon singles finalist, a top five player, she will forever be a tennis legend. Her overall abilities and knowledge of the sport resulted in her being one of the most recognized coaches in the world. Additionally, her kindness opened doors for myself in places I visited for the first time long after her.
Thanks to her and the help of our father, Cyril, my brother and I got the best possible guardianship into the tennis world from a very young age.
From the first steps, the best technique, as well as very tactical and leadership resulted in both of us being active in the professional sport for many, many years. I competed on the WTA Tour for 18 years, and my brother for 20 on the men's tour. Winning three Grand Slams together tops it all.
After my mom became the national coach, big names like Martina Navratilova, Hana Mandlikova, and others through their coaching leadership. She won the Fed Cup victory in 1975 as well as victories in other tournaments.
Unfortunately for us all, mom passed away at a very young age of 50. But I believe she's watching over us ever since and celebrates together with my family and I at this moment.
Let's not forget the later generation. Unfortunately Jana Novotna, Wimbledon singles champion, Hall of Famer, and my doubles partner, sadly passed away last year at the age of just 49.
Today, we have players like Petra Kvitova, Wimbledon champion, and Karolina Pliskova, our first No. 1 WTA player from the Czech Republic and many more. I only hope this great achievement of mine will inspire more young players and kids to find love in the sport of tennis and will bring other success into our small country of 10 million people.
Winning in tennis always brought a special kind of excitement inside me. The final victory is a victory that cannot be described in words. Every experience is a combination of emotions and relaxation. Being a dynamic sport, tennis brings dramatic moments.
My career has had its ups and downs with all the various emotions it brings. Especially in the Grand Slams, we didn't have the Hawk-Eye system. Right now that's a main part of today's tennis I envy the most. I can still pinpoint those matches from my past.
On one hand it was a lonely fight, but at the same time there is always a kind of teamwork because alone you cannot practice, alone you cannot play doubles, alone it is much harder to make any decision or find the best solution.
From this stand, I would like to thank all the people that helped me to reach my heights in tennis. I already spoke about my mom. Again, my thanks to my father Cyril and my brother, along with my coaches, managers, sponsors, partners, the tennis club that allowed me to practice on their court, and many others.
I do not want to forget anybody, including the WTA players from the past who made it possible with their courage to fight for a better life for women's tennis players, headed by Billie Jean King.
Last but not least, thank you very much to the Hall of Fame committee for this nomination, who all who gave me their vote, and all the people behind the scenes here in Newport, who work very hard making arrangements, taking care of the museum exhibition, travel, accommodations and much more, making the induction day even more memorable.
I shall finish with saying champions work on finding ways for improvement and not wasting their time trying to correct mistakes. I promise to always be heading this way in my life both in and outside of tennis. Thank you.
BRETT HABER: Helena, thank you. A great speech.
Jim Courier, jump up and join me for a quick second.
If you wouldn't mind sharing a brief memory about Michael Stich.
JIM COURIER: I had to check my head-to-head record against Michael because I sort of needed to know. I almost turned around when I realized I'd only won five out of 12 matches against him. But here I am anyway.
If you don't recall how beautiful Michael's tennis game is and was, I can tell you it was spectacular. Maddeningly effortless, one of the most beautiful service motions you'll ever see.
We ascended at the same time so I have a special bond because we played in some of our earliest matches deep into majors. First time when I was able to win a major, I played Michael in the semifinals. When he won at Wimbledon, I lost a match to him in the quarterfinals intentionally because I felt bad I beat him at the French Open (laughter).
He's an immense talent. We had so many wonderful battles in Davis Cup, so many special times together. I just think more than anything, the beauty of his game is sort of what sticks with me as I think about his career.
BRETT HABER: A general tennis topic that our fans might be interested in. You and I called the Isner-Anderson semifinal, all 6 hours and 36 minutes of it at Wimbledon. Where do you stand on the fifth-set tiebreaker?
JIM COURIER: I think Tim Henman, who is going to be influential at Wimbledon, he talked about an idea before, perhaps at 12-All we cap it, and go into a regular 12-point tiebreaker at that point. Seems like that's a popular idea. Tim is in charge of the competitive committee at All England Club.
I played in several matches that went into overtime, not quite as long as that match, and I remember them. I don't think we want to necessarily lose that piece of it, but we want to make sure the players have enough energy and they're competitive in their next matches so it doesn't take away from the tournament.
Kevin Anderson did a great job in the final in the third set sparking up, but I can't imagine how difficult that was for him physically.
BRETT HABER: Thank you, Jim.
It is time now to bestow the Hall of Fame honors on another great champion.
Amid all the hustle and bustle of an athlete's career, there come unforgettable moments. Michael Stich delivered one such moment at Wimbledon in 1991 when he defeated the defending champion Stefan Edberg, and then the three-time Wimbledon champion and his countryman, Boris Becker, to claim tennis's most coveted trophy.
Today that supreme achievement, along with a host of other accomplishments, make Michael the recipient of tennis's highest honor.
In his honor, won't you please rise for the national anthem of Germany.
BRETT HABER: Ladies and gentlemen, to present Michael for induction today, please welcome his coach, who was with him through that extraordinary Wimbledon run and so many other pivotal moments of his career, Mark Lewis.
MARK LEWIS: Ladies and gentlemen, Hall of Famers, it is a privilege and an honor to be here today to introduce Michael Stich at his induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
As a young child in New Zealand, I grew up with my tennis-playing brothers pretending to be Rod Laver or Ken Rosewall in a Wimbledon final. How that Kiwi kid connected with the German player across the world is a testament to the international flavor of tennis.
The first time I met Michael in Munich, Germany, he was confident, self-assured and spoke perfect English. This was helpful, I knew three words in German, none of them to do with tennis.
I remember sitting with my brother Chris, a former Wimbledon singles finalist, watching Michael practice. He was tearing apart a Swiss professional ranked 70 in the world. Chris leaned over to me and suggested that Michael played a little bit like the South African Kevin Curran. I replied, Only better.
He then said Michael would be tough on grass.
So I replied, He's tough on any surface.
Chris finally predicted in his wisdom that Michael might go okay at Wimbledon.
I said, Mate, if you could make the final in 1983, this guy is going to win it (laughter).
The relationship between a coach and a player is sacrosanct. The foundation for our relationship was based on respect, trust and belief in each other.
I thought Michael could win every match he played, but I guess there was the odd occasion when he knew I was a little worried that he may lose to a lesser-ranked player. I don't know how he knew, but he did. When he detected that in me, he'd say something like, Don't worry, Coach, it's not that complicated. Just a big kick serve to the backhand, easy volley, game over.
That's just what he would do, and he'd win.
Tennis was a very simple game for Michael. When he was in that frame of mind, he could beat anybody in the world. A five-four lifetime winning record against the mighty Pete Sampras is proof of that.
Most players, they just play to make a living from tennis. But Michael made history: 18 singles titles, 10 doubles titles, he won tournaments on all four playing surfaces, which shows you how good his all-court game was. He won every major singles tournament in his home country of Germany, including his beloved German Open in Hamburg.
He won Wimbledon doubles with John McEnroe and Olympic gold with Boris Becker in the same year. Not easy. In 1993, Michael won the ATP Masters, beating Pete Sampras in the final. He made the US Open final in '94, and the French Open final in '96. Got to 2 in the world. He was also top 10 in doubles. That's a Hall of Fame career.
Michael was the ultimate team player. He never demanded more than any of his teammates. He won the Hopman Cup, the World Team Cup, and the Davis Cup, the Holy Grail of TeamTennis. They're all part of his rÃ©sumÃ©. There was no 'I' in Michael ever.
The defining moment of his Hall of Fame career was winning the Wimbledon men's singles title in 1991 against all odds. Michael was 66-1 starting that fortnight, and after surviving an early round scare, he played some of the most beautiful grass court tennis I've ever seen. Michael outplayed our friend Jim in the quarterfinals, before squeaking past Stefan Edberg in a thrilling semi.
I vividly remember the last words, Michael's last words to me, before he took to Centre Court for the final against fellow German Boris Becker. He had this steely look in his eyes, and he said, There's no way I'm going to lose this match. Of course, he didn't. Michael is a man true to his word.
The significance of that match cannot be overstated. Back then in '91, Becker was king of Wimbledon. It was his sixth final in seven years. He had won it three times. For Michael, it was only his third-ever match on the Centre Court. The new kid on the block daring to challenge Germany's hero. But that day, the challenger became the champion and the hero.
Michael has always been down-to-earth. While winning Wimbledon changed his life, it did not change his nature. He treated people well; his family, his friends, his coaches, his sponsors, and his managers. He had a small but loyal team around him, and we have all been so fortunate to have been part of his illustrious career.
He's loyal. That is so evident in his post-playing career. He served his country as Davis Cup captain at a time when the once proud tennis nation was desperately trying to bring back the glory days. For many years, and still, the tournament director for the German Open in his hometown of Hamburg.
But most of all Michael works hard to help children affected with the HIV virus. The Michael Stich Foundation, founded in 1994, he raised millions of Euros to put smiles on the faces of children who struggle with life every day.
There are not enough superlatives in my English or in my German vocabulary to describe Michael Stich as a player or as a person. As I get older and I look back through my rose-tinted glasses at the time I spent with him, the more I cherish what he achieved and the good times we enjoyed on that journey.
I was very fortunate to have spent six years working with Michael at a time when German tennis was experiencing a tennis boom. The country was undergoing massive political change, and it was exhilarating to be there when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. At the same time, Michael was crashing through walls on his own ascent to tennis greatness.
Germans are renowned for their engineering, technical expertise, precision, reliability, and performance. Throw in some creativity, some spontaneity, a little bit of improvisation, that's how Michael was as a tennis player.
I guess my contribution to all of that was a Kiwi can-do attitude, and let's roll the sleeves up and get stuck in mentality, and some good old Number 8 fencing wire when things weren't working quite so well.
30 years on, still celebrating Michael Stich's magnificent tennis playing career, it is with great pleasure that I introduce my great friend and 2018 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee, Michael Stich.
BRETT HABER: We now ask Hall of Famer Jim Courier to present Michael with his Hall of Fame jacket and Stan Smith to present the International Tennis Hall of Fame medal. Join us in welcoming for the first time as a Hall of Famer, Michael Stich.
MICHAEL STICH: Thank you very much. Everybody who knows me a little bit knows, as you say, I'm a little bit closed when I have speeches. Mark, what to say (tearing up)?
I preferred you as a coach being a little bit nasty from time to time. Thank you very much really. I think you just said what I feel. I just give it back to you. You did more than just trying to do what a Kiwi could do.
When I started playing tennis, I was thrown in with my parents, I have two older brothers, my parents started late, as a six-year-old you couldn't leave him home all alone, taking him to the club, give him a racquet and a ball, there's a wall you can play against for the next two hours. That's how I started playing tennis. Unfortunately I never beat that opponent in my years. I tell you, I keep trying, but it never worked. That's how I started playing tennis.
I never wanted to become a tennis professional as a junior. At that time, as Mark pointed out, in Germany it was about the rise of the tennis nation, even though we had Gottfried von Cramm, a great ambassador of the sport, tennis in Germany. It was at that time that you had to finish school with 15, 16, become a tennis professional.
When I was 15, 16, I was more or less I didn't know the borders of Hamburg where I was living, I was happy to get out to Denmark to go on holiday with my parents and brothers. I decided to finish school and enjoy tennis.
The reason I played tennis is because I loved the game. It was not because I wanted to be professional, because I didn't know what it meant. Some players at Wimbledon play tennis, how do they get there, how do they book a hotel, get into the tournament, all that stuff? I had no clue.
I think for me it was the right upbringing because I would not have been ready with 15 or 16 at all to go around the world and do tennis as a job. I had to have that grown-up, as a lover of the game. I hated losing more than anything else. I think that's a good base for any sport, that you want to become a better player and you improve.
When we met, I moved to Munich, I was a player like I think some of my colleagues can refer to that, you have a schedule to practice six hours a day, three hours in the morning, three hours in the afternoon, some gym work, running work. I did this. I never realized I was sitting about two hours on the bench talking to my fellow players there, and really wasting valued time.
You were the one who taught me it's not about the time I spent on court, it's about the quality I spent on court. So that's when I didn't play six hours a day any more, I started playing four hours, but very intense. We used really the time and made the best out of the time. That made me understand that I have to work constantly on the approach of becoming a tennis professional, learning what it means to be a professional.
When I think back at that time, it was the most important time in my career. I owe you and a lot of people at that time a lot what I've achieved in my career. Obviously also my family, who can't be here unfortunately. My brothers booked a holiday long ago before Todd called me and said I was nominated, then he called me and said I was inducted, which I'm so proud and honored to be here to be part of this family.
My father turned 79 this year. He would have loved to be here, but it would have been a little bit too much for him to travel. As mentioned before, I have to be unfortunately leaving tonight because I have to go back to Hamburg to host my tournament, play an exhibition with John McEnroe tomorrow on clay. I know John loves me being here right now and he's getting prepared in Hamburg.
I'm very sad I can't be here tonight because I think it's such a special occasion. It's once in a lifetime you can experience there and be part of it. Hopefully the years coming, I know it comes along with responsibility as well, that you just not be inducted, but you have to do and give something back to tennis.
When I think back of my career, Mark pointed out my successes, I'll skip that part of it, thanks for that, but when I prepared my speech, I was asked to hand in the paper with the written speech, everybody was getting nervous. I said, I don't have a paper. Just what happens, I'll improvise, best time I had on court as well. I wanted to suck in all the atmosphere and the experience I have coming here. It's been a lot.
Going to the museum, seeing all those great players being part of the Tennis Hall of Fame, it just does something with you.
When I went to Wimbledon, obviously three things happened that were very important to me, two mostly very important. The first thing when I first stepped on Centre Court, a lot of the guys here know that, if you have that saying of Rudyard Kipling's poem, where you say if you meet with triumph and disaster, treat those two impostors just the same. Gave me an understanding at Wimbledon, any court on the world, that you can be a respectful and true tennis player no matter if you win or lose that you show that respect to your opponent, winning and losing.
That really changed my approach competing in general. I always wanted to win. I always went out there and wanted to win my match. It made me understand that on that court at Wimbledon, on the Centre Court, a hundred years before I went there, everyone walked by that and had the same understanding: If you walk on the tennis court, on the Centre Court, you have to accept the fact you might be losing. It's a very important lesson you get taught because it happens more often than you want it to happen.
That really influenced also the career from then on. I always tried to be respectful to everyone around. I tried to treat everyone the same and respectful as possible. I was not always the best guy on the tennis court. I was not always the best-behaving guy on the tennis court. I could argue with the chair umpire, be unhappy with his decisions. I always walked up to the chair umpire after the match and said, I'm sorry. But it has to happen to show emotions.
I think that's what made our generation so special, and the ones before, we were able to show the emotion, we were able to show frustration, happiness, all the kind of things that is missing a little bit these days. We feel like the players have so much to give, they're such great athletes and champions, but I want to see them be angry, happy, get something across. I want to be emotionally involved with all those players.
The second thing was after I won Wimbledon in '92 the first year it happened, I came to the locker room at Wimbledon. Fred Perry was standing in the locker room. Obviously I knew who Fred Perry was. I was a little bit insecure if I should go up, what I should do.
He came up to me and he took my hand, he gave me a speech for about five to seven minutes. I'm a great tennis player, did a great job in '91, I can do it again.
Every year I went to Wimbledon after that, first guy to meet on the first day was Fred Perry. It just showed me that no matter what generation you're in, no matter what you've done or what you've achieved, it's about the people you meet, it's about how we treat each other and how we respect each other, how we go along with each other.
That is the great thing about our sport, about tennis, that it's not all about winning or losing, it's about the people that make all that possible, the people that are behind the scenes, people that are on the court that make you feel secure and at home. This is over generations.
If I look back, I went to the champions dinner in Wimbledon. I was sitting there. Somebody came up to me, the son of Jean Borota, the oldest living champion at that dinner. He wanted to introduce me to Jean Borota. He took me to the table and said, I want you to meet Michael Stich.
Jean Borota got up and looked at me and said, Who are you?
I was not mad at him. It was okay. But it's just those special moments, occasions that I remember more than match results or scores I have achieved. That is the same when you come here. It's not so much about obviously the special result or a special score that I've achieved, it's about the overall view on this sport.
When I retired in '97, as was pointed out, I had a short career, more or less played 10 years, but when I retired, Wimbledon '97 was the last match in the semifinals. I took off. After that day, I didn't touch a tennis racquet for five years. I really put it away to realize what else is out there in the world.
I felt like I would be missing tennis, all that surrounds the sport. The most thing I missed were the players, the guys that I used to travel with around the whole year. Not being friends with all of them, but having great relationships with Jim, for example, with Todd as well, people you could speak to, all the other guys.
There are ones I didn't like obviously as well. But I missed those guys. I missed having them around, being part of that group of players that make that sport so great. That's why I'm so thankful to be inducted this year and having the opportunity to be part of this again in a different way, but in a very special way, also with all the different generations that are part of the Hall of Fame.
Also I know it comes along with a responsibility to give back, promote the game of tennis, promote the sport, go out there and tell people how great this is, what we can do, how great it is for the coming generations, that it's worth really trying hard and never giving up.
As long as we have the respect and the loyalty towards institutions like this, our fellow players, it's something we need to teach the young generation more, it's important to have respect and loyalty out there. I think this sport will be great over the next decades to come, and I promise I'll do my best to be part of this and to help this and make this happen.
Thank you very much.
STAN SMITH: Ladies and gentlemen, as of now, we have 254 members of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. I'd like to have you join me in welcoming the last two, Michael and Helena. Congratulations on your careers. Congratulations on all you've done for the game, what you're going to do for the game as we go on.
I'd like to have all of you join me in welcoming the Class of 2018.
We are now going to have the traditional parade of the Hall of Famers led by Helena and Michael. As we go around the court, you can share your appreciation for them as they go by.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports