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Former Champion Davenport And Four Others Enshrined Into International Tennis Hall Of Fame
     
 

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport, 5-time Paralympic champion Chantal Vandierendonck, legendary tennis coach Nick Bollettieri, tennis industry leader Jane Brown Grimes, and British tennis historian John Barrett were all presented the highest honor in tennis Saturday’s enshrinement in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. With thousands of cheering fans in the stands and perfectly pleasant summer weather, the Class of 2014 was celebrated in a grand ceremony on Center Court at Bill Talbert Stadium Court at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, R.I.

In addition to the new class of enshrinees, more than 15 Hall of Famers and many other great tennis personalities joined in the celebration. Chris Evert opened the ceremony with a speech to introduce Jane Brown Grimes.

Hall of Famer Brad Parks made a presentation speech as well, honoring Chantal Vandierendonck. Hall of Famer Angela Mortimer Barrett was also on the ceremony dais, looking on to see her husband John Barrett be enshrined. Lindsay Davenport was presented by her friend and Tennis Channel colleague Justin Gimelstob, Nick Bollettieri by broadcaster Mary Carillo, and John Barrett by fellow journalist and historian Steve Flink. Tracy Austin, Monica Seles, Gigi Fernandez, Pam Shriver, Vic Seixas, Rosie Casals, Peachy Kellmeyer, Bud Collins, Dick Savitt, Donald Dell, Charlie Pasarell, and Owen Davidson were also all in attendance.

In presenting Brown Grimes, Evert remarked, "I can speak first hand to the fact that Jane's skilled diplomacy was crucial to the survival of the WTA Tour as she was able to navigate the tricky waters of attracting and keeping desirable sponsorships while distancing our association with past relationships with controversial brands. It was a pivotal time for women's tennis and it put us on a secure course for the future."

Brown Grimes, who has been involved in tennis since the 1970s, spoke about the changes she has seen in the sport, and the role tennis has played in international relations, noting such moments like Martina Navratilova receiving a warm welcome from fans when she played Fed Cup in Prague as a newly minted U.S. citizen.

"There's so many examples in this sport making room for tolerance and understanding in a world often torn by bitter conflict. So tennis has grown bigger and stronger and richer, but it has also done what Dwight Davis set out as a goal when he founded the Davis Cup in 1900, to promote goodwill internationally," said Brown Grimes. "I feel so very lucky to have played a very small role in this amazing story, and to be recognized in this way today on this court in front of so many friends and family and tennis fans is more than I could ever have imagined."

The ceremony was hosted by International Tennis Hall of Fame Chairman Christopher Clouser, who opened the event with a special honor for two longtime Hall of Fame leaders when he named CEO Mark Stenning and longtime supporter Ed Woolard as Life Trustees of the organization.

"The very highest honor and recognition that can be awarded to someone who serves the International Tennis Hall of Fame is the designation of life trustee. There are only 15 individuals who have ever been awarded this honor in our 60 year history. I am pleased on behalf of the Executive Committee to announce the appointment of two new life trustees," said Clouser.

He then introduced the crowd to Ed Woolard,  a longtime supporter who is now serving as Vice Chair of the Capital Campaign that is currently underway for major renovations and expansions to the property.

"Each of you may have seen over that the Hall of Fame is about to go under massive redevelopment.  It's a new tennis building, a new museum, and an improved center court.  It all would not have happened, were it not for Ed's dedication and leadership."

In presenting the Life Trustee honor to Mark Stenning, Clouser remarked upon the many various aspects of the Hall of Fame that Stenning has been involved in over the past 35 years, including the Hall of Fame's annual ATP World Tour event, the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships. He then invited last year's champion Nico Mahut onto the court to present Stenning with the Life Trustee honor.

"He has done incredible work.  When you look around here, you see what's happened and is going to happen, it's because of this gentleman," said Clouser in reference to Stenning.

"Wheelchair tennis brought so much to my life. The challenge to work on my tennis game, I just love to practice and see if all you work for will reveal in the matches. But it also helped me so much to deal with my life in a wheelchair. Being around all those active, young, independent, positive minded sports people showed me how great my life in a wheelchair still could be," said Vandierendonck. "I've learned so much from all the other players and I'm grateful for that. I hope that with all I have learned I am able to inspire other people. I am deeply honored to receive this reward for my career." 

Legendary tennis coach Nick Bollettieri was presented for enshrinement by esteemed tennis broadcaster Mary Carillo, who kept the crowd entertained by inserting several Nick-isms and quotes of comments he's told her into her speech.

"His energy defies belief.  He believes in his vision, in his gut, in his students, in  this sport.  Even when they're nine years old, he sees things and he believes," said Carillo, of the man who has coached 10 players to world No. 1 status.

Bollettieri garnered applause and laughter from the crowd when he encouraged anyone who he's ever yelled at on the court to stand up. Many guests, from those seated on center court to those in the top of the bleacher, instantly stood.

"There is really no way I could ever thank you enough for making my journey such a great one. Just know that I love you and I always yell at those I love the most.  So you can expect to hear this old raspy voice hollering for many more years," he said.

"I may not have been too good of a student, but I've always been pretty good with numbers. In fact, I guess you could say I'm a man of numbers.  There's 10 No. 1's, nine lives, eight wives, seven amazing children, having a sixth sense, 5 a.m. the time for my first lesson, four beautiful grandchildren, three years of service to our country, two great parents, one passion, and zero, the number of books I read in my lifetime," said Bollettieri.

The ceremony closed with the enshrinement of former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport, who was introduced by her childhood friend and now Tennis Channel colleague, Justin Gimelstob.

"Our final inductee is someone I care very deeply about and respect very much.  She personifies everything the International Tennis Hall of Fame is all about:  excellence, class, professionalism, authentic performance and a deep respect for the game."

Davenport, ever the humble champion, took in the enthusiastic support of the fans, and then thanked the coaches, colleagues, and friends and family who supported her over the years.

"To be up here on this stage and to share it with all the greatness that is up here is overwhelming. I was five years old when I first hit a tennis ball and a racquet was put in my hand.  I never wanted to learn another sport and I still don't. I loved playing this game. I never thought any of this would be possible. It always felt a little bit like an accident. This is an incredible honor for me, an amazing achievement. I will forever be humbled by this," said Davenport.

The International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2014 will be honored in a tribute exhibit in the museum at the Hall of Fame for the year ahead. The exhibition features dynamic photography of all the enshrinees, and artifacts such as all three of Davenport's Grand Slam singles trophies, Bollettieri's sunglasses, a chair that Vandierendonck used for playing tennis, imagery of Brown Grimes working alongside the sport's greatest leaders, several of Barrett's books, and the white tennis balls that were in play at the 1980 Wimbledon final between Borg and McEnroe - for which Barrett did on-air commentary.



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