Brazilian Tennis Star Guga Kuerten to be Inducted in 2012

Brazilian Tennis Star Guga Kuerten to be Inducted in 2012

One of Brazil’s most beloved and successful athletes, Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten, has been elected to receive the highest honor in the sport of tennis– induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Guga was the world’s No. 1 player for 43 non-consecutive weeks, and he is a three-time major tournament champion, having captured French Open titles in 1997, 2000, and 2001. Gustavo Kuerten's induction was announced in a special presentation in São Paulo at the offices of Banco do Brasil, a long-time sponsor of the tennis champion. The 2012 Induction Ceremony will be held at the International Tennis Hall of Fame on July 14, 2012 in Newport, Rhode Island in the United States.

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Gustavo "Guga" Kuerten, 35, has been elected in the Recent Player Category. Additional members of the Class of 2012, who were previously announced, include Spanish tennis great Manuel Orantes, in the Master Player Category; tennis administrator and promoter Mike Davies in the Contributor Category; and Randy Snow, who has been elected posthumously in the Recent Player Category for his accomplishments as a wheelchair tennis player. The remainder of the Class of 2012 will be announced in the month ahead.

"King of the clay courts, Guga was one of the most popular players of his era, and he achieved tremendous success during a time when some of the greatest players in history were active, including Hall of Famers Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, and Michael Chang,” said Christopher Clouser, chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. “On behalf of the Board of Directors and the Enshrinee Nominating Committee of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, I extend sincere congratulations to Guga on this well-deserved honor. We look forward to celebrating with him and all of the Class of 2012 inductees in July.”

With his beaming smile, engaging personality, and high energy game, the lively atmosphere that Guga brought to tennis stadiums around the world was nothing short of extraordinary.

Universally adored by both fans and peers, the Brazilian star is quick to state that the feeling is mutual, and that this support was integral to his success.  

In fact, although it was not a final, he often cites his fourth round French Open match in 2000 as one of the most memorable and treasured of his career. After saving three match points for the win, Guga first etched his iconic heart in the clay court, in an expression of love for his fans.

In 1997, Guga was ranked world No. 66 and had just eight ATP World Tour level wins to his name when he entered Roland Garros. While no one may have seen Guga coming that year, when he lifted the champion’s trophy and thanked the fans with his giant smile, it was clear that a star had arrived.

In the years that followed, Guga became one of the most dominant clay court players of his time. He captured the French Open title again in 2000 and 2001, and won a total of 20 singles titles and 8 doubles titles.

Guga started playing tennis when he was six years old, and his family was always very much part of his career. His father, a talented player himself, first taught Guga the game, before tragically passing away when Guga was just eight years old. Guga’s mother supported her son’s career emphatically. His older brother, Raphael, served as his business manager. His younger brother, Guilherme, who had cerebral palsy, was undoubtedly one of his biggest fans. Guga presented Guilherme every one of his tournament trophies, including the coveted Roland Garros trophies.

When he was 14 years old, Guga met Larri Passos, who convinced Guga and his family that he could make it as a pro, and then remained his coach for the rest of his career. An important extension of his family support was the thousands of enthusiastic Brazilian fans, who filled the stands worldwide and waved their flags proudly, while the energetic player dazzled on the court, often sporting bright yellow and blue attire.

In 2000, for the first time in history, the No. 1 year-end position came down to the final match of season. Guga defeated superstar Andre Agassi in the match, breaking an eight-year reign of No. 1 finishes by Americans. It was the first time that a South American had ever been ranked world No. 1, a position Guga held for 43 weeks over his career. 

That same year, Guga embarked on another important venture, to which he is still dedicated today. Inspired by his late brother, Guilherme, he opened the Institute Guga Kuerten to help disabled people. The institute is dedicated to providing developmental opportunities, sports, and education, as well as to promoting social inclusion throughout the nation. The institute is located in Guga’s hometown of Florianopolis, Brazil, and since its inception, it has assisted more than 40,000 people in over 168 Brazilian cities. Guga was awarded the ATP World Tour’s Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award in 2003, and in 2010, he was honored with the Philippe Chatrier Award by the International Tennis Federation. Currently, he works in order to win a new challenge: to support the social activities developed by Institute Guga Kuerten.

A national hero to Brazilians,  champion beloved by tennis fans worldwide, three-time winner at Roland Garros,  world No. 1, and now, a Tennis Hall of Famer, Guga Kuerten.

Located in Newport, Rhode Island, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history of tennis and honoring its greatest champions and contributors. Induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame is based on the sum of one’s achievements and accomplishments in tennis, and is the highest honor a player or leader in the sport can receive. Since 1955, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has inducted 220 people from 19 countries. Guga Kuerten is the second Brazilian to be inducted, joining 1978 Hall of Famer Maria Bueno. The other South Americans who have received the honor are Gabriela Sabatini and Guillermo Vilas of Argentina, Pancho Segura of Ecuador, and Alex Olmedo of Peru. 

Class of 2012 - Click to learn more about an inductee!

Jennifer Capriati

Former world No. 1, Olympic gold medalist & 3-time Grand Slam champion

Guga Kuerten

Former world No. 1 & 3-time French Open champion.

Randy Snow

Wheelchair tennis star & 3-time Paralympic medalist.

Manuel Orantes

Spanish tennis great
& US Open champion.

Mike Davies

Tennis industry
promoter and innovator.

Eligibility & Voting

Inductees to the International Tennis Hall of Fame are elected in the categories of Recent Player, Master Player and Contributor.

Guga Kuerten has been elected to the Hall of Fame in the Recent Player Category. Eligibility criteria for this category is as follows: active as competitors in the sport within the last 20 years prior to consideration; not a significant factor on the ATP or WTA Tour within five years prior to induction; a distinguished record of competitive achievement at the highest international level, with consideration given to integrity, sportsmanship, and character.

A panel of International Tennis Media vote on the Recent Player Category. A 75% favorable vote is required for induction.

Induction Ceremony
 
The Class of 2012 Induction Ceremony will be hosted on July 14 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, R.I. The ceremony is held in conjunction with the Campbell's Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour event. Tickets for that day include seats for the Induction Ceremony and the tournament semi-finals, and tickets are available now on tennisfame.com or by phone at 866-914-FAME (2363).

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About the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum 
Established in 1954, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving the history of tennis, inspiring and encouraging junior tennis development, providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide, and enshrining tennis heroes and heroines with the highest honor in the sport of tennis- induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.  In 1986, the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis, officially recognized the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum as the sport's official Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is located in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on a six-acre property that features an extensive Museum chronicling the history of the sport and honoring the 220 Hall of Famers; 13 grass tennis courts and an indoor tennis facility that are open to the public and to a club membership; a rare Court Tennis facility; and an historic 297-seat theatre. Annually in July, the venue hosts the Campbell's Hall of Fame Tennis Championships for the Van Alen Cup, an ATP World Tour event. The buildings and grounds, which were constructed in 1880 by McKim, Mead & White to serve as a social club for Newport's summer residents, are renowned for their incredible architecture and preservation. The facility was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is supported by Official Partners including BNP Paribas, Campbell Soup Company, Chubb Personal Insurance, Kia Motors and Rolex Watch USA. For information on the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and its programs, call 401-849-3990 or visit us online at www.tennisfame.com.