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July 20, 2019

Brett Haber

Nick Bollettieri

Mary Pierce

Larry Stefanki

Yevgeny Kafelnikov

Max Eisenbud

Li Na

Stan Smith

Newport, Rhode Island

BRETT HABER: Good evening, everyone. We welcome you to beautiful Newport, Rhode Island. We welcome you to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. How is everyone feeling on this enshrinement Saturday evening?

I'm Brett Haber from Tennis Channel. It is my honor to welcome you to the induction ceremony for the class of 2019. We are here today on these historic grounds which not only house the history of our sport, but also witnessed it take place firsthand. This stunning venue hosted the very first U.S. national championships back in 1881. It now stands as a monument to those who have created the history of this beautiful sport that we love.

Induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame is the ultimate honor in the sport of tennis. It represents the sum of one's achievements and signifies a place at the highest level in the history of the game.

But joining the Hall of Fame is about more than just results. Induction here signifies an individual who embodies the key principles of our sport: character, commitment, integrity, and excellence. It is an honor that only 254 individuals have received to this date.

Today three great competitors hailing from three very different corners of the globe, each with a unique story of their own road to Newport, will join tennis' most elite ranks as Hall of Famers.

So it is now time to introduce our three guests of honor.

She was a fearless and focused competitor, a power hitter you could always count on to leave it all on the court. During an accomplished career that saw her become a Grand Slam champion at age 20, first in Australia, five years later at Roland Garros, her nation's home slam, she also achieved a ranking of world No. 3 in both singles and in doubles.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the Hall of Fame, Mary Pierce.

When he won the Australian Open in 1996, he became Russia's first-ever Grand Slam champion. But he didn't stop there. He went on to be the first ever Russian world No. 1, first to win an Olympic gold medal in tennis, at Davis Cup, as well as the French Open singles title and four major doubles titles. Please welcome to the Hall of Fame, Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

Our third guest of honor, she blazed a trail for tennis in her nation, where there had not been very much interest or awareness in the sport previously. That sentiment has certainly changed after more than 116 million people tuned in to watch her capture the Roland Garros trophy in the year 2000. She went on to win Australia, as well as reach the world No. 2 ranking.

Please welcome an athlete who inspired a nation to love this game, from China, Li Na.

In addition to the three newest members of the Hall of Fame, we are joined today by an illustrious group of Hall of Famers who are here on the stage behind me, to welcome their newest colleagues in the Hall of Fame. We'll introduce them one by one.

Starting with the former U.S. No. 1 in the year 1967, and a Davis Cup member for this country, a dedicated tennis leader, one of the founding members of the ATP, from the class the 2013, Charlie Pasarell.

She is a 12-time major doubles champion. Twice a Grand Slam singles finalist and one of our sport's trailblazers in the era of gender equity and open tennis. From the class of 1996, a member of the original nine of women's tennis, Rosie Casals.

This Aussie won 13 Grand Slam titles, including 11 in mixed doubles, and all four in the calendar year 1967. From the class of 2010, the great Owen Davidson.

She won 17 Grand Slam doubles titles and captured three of the four in the same year for three straight years. A doubles world No. 1, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, from the class of 2010, Gigi Fernandez.

This man is an absolute legend and pioneer in his craft. He has coached 10 world No. 1's. After today he will have coached four Hall of Famers: Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Monica Seles, and Mary Pierce. Please welcome from the class of 2014, Hall of Fame coach Nick Bollettieri.

This man won seven titles, the world No. 1 and All-American led the U.S. to seven Davis Cup titles, now the president of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, welcome from the class of 1987, Stan Smith.

He is a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion, having won Grand Slam singles titles on three surfaces, three times a Davis Cup winner, world No. 1 from Sweden, and the class of 2002, Mats Wilander.

She was ranked world No. 1, and was the winner of nine Grand Slam singles titles, eight of them captured before her 20th birthday. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Newport from the class of 2009, Hall of Famer Monica Seles.

Another Australian legend with us tonight, winner of the career Grand Slam in both men's doubles and mixed doubles, 17 Grand Slam titles in all, one of the most decorated doubles players in the history of the sport, from the class of 2010, Mark Woodforde.

He is one of tennis' all-time great storytellers from the class of 2017, a preeminent tennis historian, author and journalist, please welcome back to Newport Steve Flink.

This man was a three-time All-American at Yale, a U.S. Davis Cup player, and captain of renowned. He helped establish the ATP, revolutionized the way athletes conduct business as one of the first sports agents in the world, from the class of 2009, Donald Dell.

It is a privilege to have all of you back at the Hall of Fame. We hope our three newest members come back often.

This may be an individual sport, but as most any player would tell you, success and the Hall of Fame level cannot be achieved alone. We would like to welcome, therefore, and thank the family and friends and coaches and special guests of the class of 2019 who traveled to Newport today to be part of this celebration. They are seated on the court. Would you please stand and be recognized.

The three of you have shy and humble family and friends (laughter).

Also joining our special guests on court tonight, I'd like to acknowledge the International Tennis Hall of Fame leadership who are so dedicated to accomplishing this organization's mission of preserving tennis history, and celebrating its greatest champions, so as to inspire the future of this sport. Our thanks to Chairman of the Board Mike Goss, the Hall of Fame Executive Board and Board of Governors, and the CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame Todd Martin.

Would you all please stand and be recognized.

We have three great champions for today. For the rest of their lives, they become Hall of Famers.

First up, a woman who truly represents the global nature of our sport. Canadian born, American raised, and a proud woman of France, she is adored around the world. Two times a major singles champion, and soon to be a Hall of Famer, Mary Pierce.

Take a look.

(Video Shown.)

BRETT HABER: To present Mary for induction into the Hall of Fame, her former coach and a Hall of Famer himself, Nick Bollettieri.

NICK BOLLETTIERI: Wow. I personally want to welcome all of you in attendance to the 2019 International Tennis Hall of Fame. The International Tennis Hall of Fame is very important to our sport. It is much more than brick and mortar.

The Hall of Fame is tradition and history, giving honor to people who did not pay entry with money but earned it with blood, sweat and tears. Those who never, and I mean never, said, I can't do it, but found a way to do it.

I congratulate Li Na, my man Mr. Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

I also want to thank Todd Martin and his dedicated staff, not only for this special weekend, but also for the continuous improvements to all the facilities at the Hall of Fame.

A very special thank you to Jean-Yves Fillion for all the support BNP Paribas gives to the Hall of Fame and to tennis.

Now, I didn't forget, to our host, Brett Haber of the Tennis Channel, his humor, with it and wisdom should make him a Hall of Famer, baby.

No matter how much time and thought I have given to find a way to tell you about my Mary, it would be very difficult in the short amount of time that I have here today.

Mary, you see, is much more than a great tennis champion. Her credentials speak loud and clear: winning the Australian Open, the French Open, the finals of the US Open, and help France to two Fed Cups.

The first time I saw Mary at the IMG Academy with her father, when she was 13 years old, I had to put on my Maui Jim sunglasses. You know why? Are you kidding me? Wow. She stood right on top of the baseline, baby, and whacked every single ball with all her might.

She had a naturally powerful and aggressive game from the baseline. Mary and her father ended up leaving the academy after a while. I knew she was very talented and had a lot of potential. We Italians know how to keep one eye on her progress. She turned professional at the tender age of 14.

During my travels as a coach on tour, I ran into Mary again at a WTA tournament. Mary had a new coach, Sven Groeneveld, and she asked if she and Sven would come back to the IMG Academy to train and asked if I would work with her again.

I told her, Let me think about this a little bit. I wrote her a letter, baby, and it was far from a love letter. Keep in minds at times, most of the times, the words of Nick Bollettieri have been rather direct and have not gone over very well. Just ask my eight wives. This may be why I'm still working, soon to be 88 next week.

Mary understood my heart and goals, and agreed to come with Sven to the academy to work with me. After several months of the grueling Mary Pierce drills, short ball, deep ball, short ball, deep ball, cleaned it up, Mary.

She had to work eight hours a day, but Mary was a lean and mean tennis machine. She was now physically ready to win a Grand Slam, but did she have the mental strength to go along with her ability?

Well, Mary went to Australia and won the Australian Open, defeating Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in the final. Mary Pierce proved she had the physical talent, mental determination, and willingness to sacrifice whatever it takes to achieve on court.

However, listen closely, Mary is much more than a tennis champion. She is an angel. She has an incredibly warm and tender heart. She has one mission in life: how can I help you achieve your goals?

I want to thank you, Mary, from the bottom of my heart for the loyalty, love and care that you have always shown me in making sure my family was all well at the same time.

To help Mary achieve all that she has done, both on and off the court, did not come about by accident. It comes about my teamwork, baby, by your beautiful mother, and her brother David, who was her hitting partner for hours and hours every day for most of her career.

Now, Mary, close your ears. He told me he is still waiting for that bonus that you promised him. Mary Pierce, you will always be part of my life. Never change, giving your heart and soul to make the world a better place, helping people achieve their goals as you achieved your goals.

It is now time that I introduce my Mary Pierce to the 2019 inductee to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Thank you, everybody.

BRETT HABER: Now Hall of Fame President Stan Smith will present Mary with her International Tennis Hall of Fame medal. And if you would please assist Mary with her blazer.

MARY PIERCE: Wow, okay. This day has finally arrived. Been waiting for this for six months. It was announced in January.

Nick, thank you so much for introducing me today. It means a lot to me. Thank you for all those kind words. I've always appreciated your heart, your humor, your honesty, how you're direct. Thank you so much for introducing me today. Love you.

So there's a quote that I read when I was about 18, 19 years old. It said, The goal is -- I thought I would start crying a lot later than this.

The goal is only as worthy as the effort required to achieve it.

I remember reading that at a young age in the beginning of my professional career, and how much that really spoke to me because how difficult things are, and how much hard work and dedication it takes to achieve your goals and your dreams, and like Nick said, all the blood, the sweat, and the tears that it takes is worth it.

I realized the great dreams that I had in tennis, I put them so high. I thought to be able to achieve them, it's going to take everything of me. Like Nick said, I didn't hold back anything. I always felt that I give 100% of myself, and that I can be very proud of and have no regrets.

And dreams are like fuel. I think my dream in tennis was to one day win the French Open. That's what always kept me going, to think about why am I playing tennis. The mornings you don't want to get out of bed, when you're tired and you're sore and you just don't want to do it. But why am I doing it? For the dream that I have. That was the fuel that helped me every single day when I wanted to get up and have to do what it took to accomplish my goals and to accomplish my dreams.

Tennis has taught me so much in life. Such a great teacher. It's taught me that, like I said, anything that you want to achieve doesn't come easy. It comes with hard work and dedication, sacrifice. It taught me that you need to believe in yourself, no matter what anyone says. Always believe in your dreams. Sacrifice, dedication, hard work, respect. So many incredible values it's taught me throughout my life.

Of course, the tears that you sow, and pain, they later become tears of joy. It's incredible how I started playing tennis, why I started playing tennis. I wanted to be a pediatrician. By the age of seven, that's what I thought I was going to do, what I was going to become. Obviously God had another plan for my life.

I followed one of my friends from school, who was a great junior player in Florida. I was 10 years old. We used to spend time together after school, do our homework together, spend the night on the weekends at our house. One day I just followed her to her tennis lesson.

Someone asked me if I wanted to play. I said, Sure. So I was given a racquet. I hit a few balls. I got changed to a couple courts. At the end of it, about 45 minutes, an hour later, a very tall man came to me and he said, I've never seen you here before in my club. What's your name, how old are you, how long have you been playing tennis?

I'm Mary, I'm Rachel's friend, 10 years old, I'm from here, and I've been playing about 45 minutes.

He said, No, how many years have you been playing?

No, it's my first day.

When I told him that, he said, I want you to come back the next day with your parents.

I ran off to find Rachel. I think I'm in trouble. I have to come back with my parents tomorrow. I came back with my parents the next day. I remember it like it was yesterday. They were standing over there talking to the coach. I'm waiting. They come back and say, Okay, Mary, you're going to start to play tennis now, just like Rachel, after school.

I said, Okay.

If it wasn't for my friend in school, and if it wasn't for that tennis coach that saw me play the first day, obviously you must have seen something, asked me to come back the next day, I never would have come back, never been on a tennis court, I would have never come back the next day. I probably never would have played tennis again.

So thank you, Rachel, and thank you, Kevin, for being here today. It's so special. I'm so happy that you're here. It really means a lot to me. Thank you so much.

So obviously I started to play a lot. I had many different coaches along my journey in tennis. One of my coaches early on that also helped me progress throughout my tennis and my early stages was Alvaro, who is here. He coached me when I was 11, 12, spending hours with me. I was supposed to have only a one-hour lesson, and he would give me two. Always wanted to do more. The hard work, the hours, the sweat, everything that you put in, all the time to help build my game at an early stage. I'm just so grateful for that.

I'll always remember you always telling me to smile when I was on the court. Maybe I was too serious. Thank you, Alvaro.

When I was 13 years old, my father decided to take me out of school. From the very first lesson that I had in tennis, my dad was always there from the beginning. He became my coach, alongside the other coaches that I had, and would take me every weekend with a huge basket of balls and practice stroke over stroke, repetition over hour, over hour. When I was 13, he decided he wanted to take me out of school. I was quite sad because I loved school.

We moved to my mother's country in France. That's when I started training probably eight hours a day. That was all that I did, just trained all day long. It was very hard, those years in my life. Became pro at 14 years old, very young, thrown into an adult world. Expected to act like an adult, think like an adult, speak like an adult, but we can't because we're young.

The training was very hard, to say the least. Many, many hours, like Nick said, my brother was on the court with me as my sparring partner. Much was written about my father's behavior during that time, during those years that he was my coach. He traveled with me. We traveled as a unit, four of us: my mom, my father, my brother and I, and a sparring partner sometimes as well.

I know that there's been a lot of talk about what happened with my father as my coach, how difficult it was for me. But I don't want to go into all of those details right now.

At 18 years old, I had the help from the late Georgina Clark of the WTA Tour. Sometimes we feel like we get angels sent to us on our paths in our lives and come and help us at specific moments when we really need it. She was definitely one of those people who came at a time in my life when I needed help. She helped me to get out of a situation that was very difficult. I'm grateful for her help.

At that point in my life, when I was 18 years old, I thought about quitting tennis. I thought, What do I want to do with my life? Do I want to keep playing tennis? Do I want to go to school? Do I just want to get a job?

I took some time off and went to stay with a friend of mine. I'll never forget that time. She took me in, had just gotten married, two-bedroom apartment. Here is someone that comes and took me in like a sister at a time that was so critical and pivotal in my life. I want to thank Susie for being here and for that time and how much she helped me in that difficult time in my life. So thank you so much.

So life isn't easy. We have our ups and our downs. There's pain, there's struggles, there's difficulties, there's hardships for everyone, no matter what you do in life. We all face those things. It's how you deal with them.

I know for me, tennis has made me resilient and has taught me how to persevere, to never give up, to get back up every single time I felt like I was knocked down. I was able to get back up and to learn to persevere, to never quit, to never give up no matter what, to always keep going.

Despite all the success and the victories and the fame and everything that I achieved and had in my life, I always felt like something was missing. At 18 I decided I'd keep playing tennis. That's when I called Nick, to ask him if he would coach me. I was a bit nervous because I know he had been coaching so many incredible champions at the time. I don't know if he was going to coach me. I feel like my first practice was an interview, if he was going to accept me or not.

After practice, he said, Come back the next day. I said, Okay, I think that means he's going to coach me now.

Nick, you also came at a time in my life that was very difficult. It means so much for me that you're here today, that you introduced me, because you also were like a second father to me at that time in my life.

I know you cared about me, that you had my best interests at heart, there were no hidden agendas. You wanted me to grow not only as a tennis player, but as a person. You cared about me not just as a tennis player, but as a person. Thank you, so much, Nick, for everything you've done for me and my career, on and off the court. It means so much to me.

As Nick said, a year later I won my first Grand Slam tournament, which was incredible. That year in January, we set the goals in the beginning of the year. I said, Okay, my goal is to win a Grand Slam tournament and finish in the top five. By two weeks into the year, I won the Australian Open and was No. 2 in the world. I need to sit down and revisit the rest of the goals for the year.

Success came fairly quickly after I decided to come back and play tennis again. As my career went on, I had incredible success. Being No. 3 in the world. It probably looked like from the outside, to the whole world, that I had everything and that my life was great, that it was perfect, that I was living the dream. Everyone probably wanted to live the life that I was living.

But no one could see inside. No one could see my heart. No one could see the pain or the suffering that I was carrying around with me every day, or the emptiness, or the fact that I always felt like something was missing in my life. I could never figure out what that was. I couldn't put my finger on it. I didn't know what it was.

Until one day a fellow player on the tour that I noticed, it was so special and so different than everybody else. I said, This girl, she's got something. She started to become my friend. I really felt that she cared about me as a person, not just as a tennis player, was concerned about me. We became friends on tour.

Meeting Linda was a turning point in my life. Linda, you shared your faith with me, and I'll never forget the conversation that we had when you asked me if I knew who Jesus was and if I had a personal relationship with him.

I thought, No, I don't know what that is.

How you explained how much God loves me, that he had a plan for my life. I just knew what you were telling me was the truth. I knew that what you were telling me was speaking directly to my heart. I knew that what you told me was exactly what I was looking for.

So I want to thank you, Linda, from the bottom of my heart, for having the boldness to speak to me about Jesus, who in March of 2000 became my Lord and Savior, and changed my life forever.

I knew that I wanted to have the assurance 100% in my heart of salvation, which you had. I never met anybody before that had that. I knew that's what was missing in my life.

The moment that I gave my life to Jesus is when he came and He touched my heart and healed my heart. I know that He has forgiven me, for all of my sins, that I was saved, I had eternal life and I was going to heaven. That's what gave me the peace in my heart, more than anything in this world. That's what I was looking for, is peace. That fulfilled my heart, the emptiness that I had and felt was filled. I've never felt empty or that something was missing in my life or didn't have that peace or that joy from that day until today. It's been 19 years.

So thank you, Linda. I love you.

From that moment on, I knew that it was God that gave me the gift to play tennis. It wasn't my plan. I wanted to be a pediatrician. God had another plan for my life. He gave me the gift to play tennis, just like when Kevin saw me play the first year, thought I'd been playing for years like other kids. God gave me that gift. It was His plan for my life to play tennis. I'm so grateful for that.

The second miracle -- the first miracle is obviously knowing Jesus in my life. The second miracle is winning Roland Garros. That was always a dream. It was always so difficult. I thought it would never happen in my life. Showing up to that tournament, always having difficulties dealing with the media, press, expectations of the whole country riding on your shoulder. I was able to go to that tournament in peace, everything was in God's hands, I could just relax, give 100% and enjoy it.

To win the French Open was my ultimate dream in tennis, and it came true. To also win the doubles with Martina Hingis was the cherry on the top. Singles and doubles. Just incredible to see my dream in tennis come true.

My third miracle was being able to forgive my father. As I said earlier, it's very well-known the relationship that we had, things that happened in the past. For me, when I left my family at 18, I was never going to see my father again. I was never going to talk to him again.

At 25 years old, having won the French Open, knowing how I was forgiven, that I had changed, it was very clear that I needed to forgive my dad. I wouldn't have been able to do that without the Lord. To be able to forgive him, not only that I was able to forgive him, but the miracle is that my heart was healed because it was shattered into a thousand pieces and was broken. Not only that, but I had a love for my father that I never had before.

Our relationship was restored. It took some time, but we had a beautiful father-daughter relationship after that.

After I won the French Open, the following year I had injuries. I was off for seven months. I went down to 300 in the world. I was totally out of shape. By the time I was able to start to come back and train, it was like I had to start from zero. I had an incredible team around me that believed in me.

I knew that my time wasn't over, there were still great things for me to accomplish. I always listened to that voice that was in my heart. 2005, I was 30 years old, and I had one of my best years on tour. People thought that I was done, and "Why is Mary still playing? She won the French, that was her dream, she should just retire." I knew in my heart I wasn't done.

I remember I was in the French Open at Roland Garros, just before the 2005 edition. I was in the gym working out. There was a French tennis coach that came up to me, Mary, you're here.

I said, Yes.

What are you doing here?

Well, I'm here to play the French Open.

Oh, really? He laughed at me.

I said, Yes.

He said, Oh, okay, maybe you'll win a match or two.

I thought, What? Okay. I just smiled. Inside I said, We'll see who is laughing last.

I made the finals.

So for me it just taught me to always believe in yourself, to always listen to that voice inside no matter what anybody says, that you can't do it, but you can, to always believe in that.

I always played with all of my heart. I always did my best. I always learned from my mistakes. I always wanted to be better. The competition was myself, not anybody else. I left it all out on the court. I gave 100%. I have no regrets, and I'm proud of that.

I'm looking forward to what is ahead. I have some exciting projects in my heart that aid love to accomplish in this next phase in my life. I would never, ever be up here if it wasn't for everybody that helped me along this road on and off the court.

I've thanked you, Alvaro. I thank (indiscernible) Monagro (phonetic), used to coach me. Leanna, you're here. Thank you so much for being here. You know how much I loved your father, how much he helped me. Sven, Craig. Thank you Nick and Kevin. My strength and conditioning coaches who worked with me, Jose Rincon, he was with me when I won the Australian Open in 1995 and trained me. Thank you so much, Jose, for all the hard work we did together. Thank you for being here.

Mark Bristedian, all the doctors, the physios, the osteos, massage therapists, Dr. Montalvo, I wouldn't have been able to do anything in my career without him. My sparring partners I had along the way. Ricardo, who is here. Thank you, Ricardo, Bobo, my fellows. My agents and supporters, Virginia, Gavin. My lawyer Bob, who made sure that he read everything before I signed it. What about Bob? And Fabia, my agent who is here with me now, thank you so much with your help, everything you've done.

I want to thank the WTA Tour, but also the WTA family. The WTA is a family. We spend our lives on the tour. You're giving your lives for us to be able to do what we can do. Kathleen, for you and your team. Cathy, keeping my body together, to go out and play. You guys are amazing. Thank you so much. Charka who also is here.

I want to thank Billie Jean King. Billie Jean King called me yesterday to congratulate me. She couldn't be here. But that meant so much to me because I'm so grateful to Billie Jean King for what she has done, and the original nine, Rosie. If it wasn't for the boldness and the guts of Billie Jean, Rosie and the original nine, there would not have been a WTA Tour and I wouldn't have been able to play. The FFT, the ITF.

To all of my wonderful friends who are here, JC in the house. My California mom watching. All the former players. I want to thank the players for making me a better player and better person. All the Hall of Famers that have called me and sent me messages over the last few days, Monica especially encouraged me. Thank you so much for being here.

And my chosen family, family of God, and my family that's here from Mauritius that's here to support me. Thank you so much for being here. I'm trying to cry last, but I'm thinking what am I going to say at the end.

My family, all of my cousins, aunts, uncles in France, they took care of me when I first arrived. I want to thank my mom. Without you I wouldn't be here. There aren't really words to express my heart to you and how grateful I am to you and for your life that was given for me and for my tennis every day, 24/7. You didn't work, you stayed at home, you're a professional mom, you're the best. Always the support, always the pillar, always there taking care of me, helping me all the time every day, to help me do what I did in my tennis. I'm just so, so grateful, mom, for everything that you've done for me and that you're doing for me. I love you so, so much.

Okay, okay, sorry. The last thing, my brother David, I love you. Thank you so much for everything you've done for me. I wouldn't have done it without you. My best years, 2000, 2005, thank you so much.

To my dad who did everything for me in the first eight years of my tennis.

To all of my fans, thank you for your love and support.

All my fellow inductees, congratulations.

To everyone at the ITF, Stan, Todd, Diane, everyone who voted for me, thank you so much for making it another miracle in my life today. This is an amazing honor. I'm humbled, privileged to be a Hall of Famer. I'm so grateful. I will remember this day for the rest of my life. May the Lord bless you. I give all the glory to the Lord.

BRETT HABER: Because of the length of the semifinal matches during the Hall of Fame Open, which were so compelling, the light is getting dim. Because we want to hear comments from the other two Hall of Famers, we want to condense the program a bit, ask them to be escorted one at a time by their presenters.

Would you please join me in welcoming the second member of the class of 2019, a two-time Grand Slam singles champion, and a legend in Russian tennis, new Hall of Famer Yevgeny Kafelnikov. He is accompanied by his presenter Larry Stefanki.

LARRY STEFANKI: Good evening. Congratulations to all the nominees this year, inductees. But I'm here to honor Yevgeny Kafelnikov. I had the privilege of coaching him for three years on the tour, and we've remained friends for the past 23 years.

A lot of people ask me this question, how does a Russian end up being coached by an American? Well, I'll tell you, I've coached many players from various places around the globe. I have found that athletes are athletes regardless of where they come from. Yevgeny and I just got connected.

We had a very similar thought process about competing at the very top level. Yevgeny learned the game of tennis old-school style. He was definitely a workhorse. Early on, he learned the importance of fundamentals, footwork, repetition, fitness and a work ethic that would bring him great success on tour.

He definitely had the mindset of a champion early on, and the self-belief that would propel him to the top of the game. Yevgeny won 26 singles titles, including two Grand Slam singles titles, the '96 French Open and the '99 Australian Open. He won 27 doubles titles. It included four Grand Slam titles, three Frenches and one US Open.

He won the gold medal in singles in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. I think that's as big, if not bigger, than a slam because it only happens once every four years. He won the Davis Cup as a member of the Russian team, beating France in France. He became the first Russian male to reach the No. 1 singles ranking in '99.

Also he was the last man to win singles and doubles in a Grand Slam event, the '96 French Open. He was a workhorse, playing both singles and doubles most weeks. Yevgeny and competition merely went together. He always showed up to win. He loved the big matches and played his best tennis under the most extreme pressure. He absolutely cherished being under the gun to have to win a match.

Besides all his accomplishments, Yevgeny is a very generous individual. He's donated his 2001 and fifth Moscow Open victory in a row to the Siberian air disaster on the Black Sea. He started a pediatric hospital in his hometown where the kids could not afford surgeries. He also started an academy in his hometown outside Sochi, which started his playing career.

Yevgeny and I have also shared the love of golf. After having retired from the tennis tour, he has pursued it at a very competitive level. People don't know it, but he actually won the Russian national championship in 2011, was the No. 1 ranked golfer in Russia.

It's been a great journey. You are now part of the tennis history forever and a new member of the Hall of Fame. Congratulations.

Now I'm honored to present to you all, the new Hall of Famer for 2019, my dear friend Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Mary, it's going to be hard for me to beat your speech, let me tell you that (laughter). I'll assure you I'll try my best.

Dear ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you how honored I am standing in front of you tonight on such an important day for me.

Let me first start mentioning two people that are most important persons in my life. On the 18th of February, 1974, I came into this world. Ever since then, they've been around me -- I'm sorry. They did best I could. I felt nothing but love, warmth and care. Mom and dad, I know you're watching it, I love you so much. You've been there for me through thick and thin. I love you. When I come back home, we will celebrate this wonderful day.

Now I'm coming to the part where who are responsible for all of my accomplishment moments on the tennis court. There's been three people. First one was Valery Shishkin, the guy who told me how to properly grip the tennis racquet and all the fundamentals which I had during my career. I tell you one story.

You know how juniors at the age of nine, 10, they trying to imitate their idols. I was nine years old. I was trying to figure out what should I have, one-handed backhand or two-handed backhand? He said to me, Look, Yevgeny, I don't know what you're thinking, but your two-handed backhand will make you win so many titles. So ever since I never had one-handed backhand. Two-handed backhand with my shot, especially up the line.

The second one was the late Anatoly Lepeshin. He basically was like a second father to me, who told me how to compete, how to behave on the court, and how to be very professional.

I remember first year that I joined tour, 1992, January in Portugal playing satellites, basically housing. It was 6 in the morning. He woke up and basically was looking after me, making me ham and cheese omelette. That's the story.

Then obviously my success at the young age really belongs to him. Winning my first major in Paris in 1996. He was never giving me any freedom, so-called, if I can say that. We were practicing five, six hours a day. So I'm thankful to him very much.

Then, of course, Larry. You know professionals go through up and downs in they career. In the middle of '98, I felt like I was struggling with motivation and desire. My agent called me up and said, Look, there is Larry around. I was on my own. Basically I had no coach.

He said to me, Look, you want to try with Larry. He's got good reputation. Coached John McEnroe before.

I said, Yeah, let's give it a shot.

In those three wonderful years that we had together, I have accomplished a lot with you. Winning that '99 Australian Open, becoming then three months later in May No. 1 in the world, and of course 2000 Olympics.

I value our relationship very much till this day. You know we've been friends for a number of years. Hopefully we'll stay like that forever. Thank you.

Also who played huge role in my tennis career, it was my management group, IMG International. I remember in 1991 when obviously Soviet Union broke up, I left with no support at all. At that time obviously Mark McCormack, Bob Kain, Chino Marquez and my manager Bill Ryan stepped in and helped me out to develop into the tennis player.

IMG is a big key into why I'm standing before you all tonight.

At last I want to thank the board members and voters for making this day very possible for me. I know what it's like and how to be a Hall of Famer, and I will definitely carry that responsibility for the rest of my life. Hopefully I'll not disappoint you. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

BRETT HABER: When this facility was built in 1881, they conducted business by candlelight, and by gum we're going to do the same here tonight (laughter).

Thank you to the incredible staff at the International Tennis Hall of Fame for ad-libbing some lighting and for defying the conditions here, what we often say when walking about Roger Federer, that Father Time is undefeated, but we're playing Mother Nature to a draw today. Well done on the staff.

Our third and final member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame for the class of 2019 is a two-time Grand Slam singles champion, a finalist on two other occasions, and a woman who pioneered the sport and introduced it to a nation where it is now spreading like no one could have ever imagined.

Would you please welcome to the stage, new member of the class of 2019, Li Na, and her presenter Max Eisenbud.

MAX EISENBUD: Thank you. Brett just asked for me short version. Lucky I have two versions, Brett (laughter).

First, I'd like to congratulate Mary and Yevgeny on being inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. You truly earned your place here. So congratulations.

Li Na, where are you? I am humbled and grateful to have the honor to induct you into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Most of all the last 10 years have been a privilege to work with you, to witness you becoming an incredible player, woman, wife, mother, entrepreneur, author, film producer, chef, the list goes on and on, and an inspiration for millions of people around the world.

We all know to make it into the Hall of Fame, you have to be an accomplished tennis player. Li Na, you've been a great tennis player and an amazing champion. What I admire and I think most impressive about you is that you've been a true pioneer, not just for tennis, not just for women, but for all of China.

I'd like to put things in perspective of what Li Na has accomplished. In sports, as in life, it's important to have greatness before you. LeBron James had Michael Jordan. Jordan was inspired by Larry Bird and Magic. Federer had Edberg and Becker as his heroes. The list goes on.

Li Na had nobody. There was no roadmap in China for becoming a great champion in a western-dominated sport. There were no successful athletes in China in individual sports before Li Na. There was no Chinese Jordan, Edberg or Federer.

While the Chinese restrictive sports machine taught Li Na incredible work ethic, made her mentally strong, she couldn't get the proper tennis training. She wasn't allowed to have a manager or an agent to guide her on the path of success. She had to give up most of her earnings and couldn't afford proper coaching. She was part of a system that has never produced an individual female tennis player who ever broke into the top 70. And yet, somehow, this rose sprouted through the asphalt and overcame every hurdle in front of her. Nothing was going to stop this amazing woman from becoming a champion.

While Li Na's lists of accomplishments is impressive, her lists of first is yet to be eclipsed. First female tennis player from China to break into the top 30. First player from China to break into the top 10. First player from China to win a WTA title. First player from China to reach a Grand Slam final. Finally, first player not just from China, from Asia, to win a Grand Slam.

Billie Jean King has said that during her match against Bobby Riggs, she felt like the whole world rested on her shoulders because she knew if she beat him, she would bring about social change. One match triggered social change for decades to come.

I believe Li Na is a maverick who has been carrying Billie Jean King's legacy in China for today's generation. She wasn't afraid to be outspoken. She wasn't afraid to stand up for her beliefs. No matter what, she believed in herself.

Li Na's titles meant a lot more than just trophies as her success on the court has inspired a generation of Chinese tennis players as well as helped other Chinese athletes keep their athletic earnings. Just like Billie Jean, Li Na brought about social change and transcended her sport.

When Li Na played her first-ever professional tennis match in 2000, there was only one WTA event in China. This year there are nine WTA events in China, more than any nation. The WTA Championships were make their debut in Shenzhen, China this year.

116 million people in China watched Li Na's Roland Garros championship match in 2011. Let me say that again. 116 million people watched her win her match in Roland Garros, a record that stands to date.

Evidence of Li Na's influence can be found throughout China with a rising number of cutting edge tennis academies, with sophisticated training techniques. All over the country producing hopefully the next generation of Li Nas.

In 2004, there were roughly two million tennis fans. By the time Li Na reached the Australian Open semifinals in 2010, the number rose to 12 million. Today there are more than 35 million people in China playing tennis, with 30,000 available tennis courts in the country.

Tennis is the fastest growing sport in China thanks to you, Li Na.

Li Na, you've been an inspiration to millions of people to not just pick up a tennis racquet, but to believe in themselves, not be afraid of a challenge and stand up for their beliefs.

You've empowered women all over China to pursue their dreams. You never lost your authenticity, your kindness, and your great sense of humor. You've changed the hearts and minds of people all over the world, and I couldn't be more proud to call you a client and most importantly a friend. Congratulations, Hall of Famer.

LI NA: Okay, I will try my speech, like my name, short as ever.

Thanks, Max. I think is only agent I had. We start working 2009. I hope I have been good player, in your opinion, right?

I think it's great honor to be Hall of Famer, join the great names of the tennis legends. This is a big place, inspiration for my professional tennis career. It's means for me, like, everything. Thank you.

My name is Li Na. I am from China. Li Na is pretty symbol, and a common name in China. I will guess maybe they have one million same name like me in China. Yeah, I was so happy with my choice.

Yeah, but not choice of mine. But I have to say sometimes is not bad, right?

I start play tennis when I was eight. My mom chose for me. Even she's not interesting about any sport, but good choice, yeah. I start about eight, dinnertime. I hate tennis, honestly. I hate because after school I have to be come to the tennis court, no time play with my friends, yeah.

So what I should say? Not bad. At least I'm stand here right now, yeah. When time went by, I really enjoyed this amazing sport. Looking back for the past year, a lot of the people who have empower me.

I would like to thank the team where I grow up, also the China federation, all my coaches.

The (indiscernible), friend, also family. All of these have result in Li Na, and cannot be achievement without any of them. Tennis has taken me around the world, explore different country. Also because of this great sport, I have more self-control and have become better organized. I think for this I can benefit lifelong and more importantly, not only on the tennis court.

Have been five years after my retirement. In the past five years, I enjoy better work and life, and most importantly I got two children, yeah. Also, same husband. I will do all I can to inspire, to help more young and upcoming players and hope they can enjoy this amazing sport.

Yeah, thank you, everyone. Also thanks for the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Thank you.

BRETT HABER: Ladies and gentlemen, we now have three new champions that have been added to the permanent roster of tennis' all-time greats. We celebrate their achievements, their commitment to the sport, their embodiment of tennis' core values. We hope they will return to Newport, their new home away from home, often. One last time we will invite to stand on the stage and receive your congratulations, the class of 2019. Ladies and gentlemen, Mary Pierce, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, and Li Na. Congratulations.

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