Former world No. 1
5-time Paralympic champion
Chantal Vandierendonck, legendary tennis coach
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
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,
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
"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.