Peachy Kellmeyer's Hall of Fame Induction Speech
Women's tennis executive Fern Lee “Peachy” Kellmeyer was presented the highest honor in tennis on July 9- induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Kellmeyer was was hired as the very first employee of the WTA Tour in 1973 and is still dedicated to the growth and development of the sport today. She was inducted alongside Andre Agassi, who captured eight grand slam tournament titles, an Olympic gold medal, and the hearts of countless fans worldwide.
“Andre Agassi and Peachy Kellmeyer have achieved extraordinary success in their tennis careers, while improving the lives of so many. Through their determination and commitment they have made the sport of tennis better and have had an immensely positive impact on the world. We are very pleased to recognize their hard work and great accomplishments with the highest honor in tennis— induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame,” said Christopher Clouser, chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. “The Induction Ceremony will be an extraordinary day and we look forward to sharing it with their families, friends and many fans— those attending the ceremony and those following the festivities on television around the world.”
The Induction Ceremony will feature speeches by the inductees, as well as presentation speeches by people they have selected. Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO of the WTA, will give Kellmeyer’s presentation speech. Agassi’s presenter will be revealed at the event.
The Induction Ceremony will be attended by special guests of the inductees, including Agassi’s coaches and trainer from throughout his career, other Hall of Famers and tennis legends, and more than 3,500 enthusiastic fans. Tickets for the ceremony are now sold out, but a limited number of tickets are available for a live simulcast, which will be shown on a giant, stage-sized screen in the newly restored, air-conditioned Casino Theatre at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The simulcast festivities will kick off with never-before-seen tribute videos, compiled from footage of great career moments and messages of congratulations from colleagues and friends. Following the ceremony, Agassi and Kellmeyer will visit with the audience for their first interviews after induction. Tickets for this event are $75 and may be purchased on tennisfame.com or by calling 401-849-6053.
Since 1955, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has honored 220 people representing 19 countries, inclusive of the Class of 2011. The International Tennis Hall of Fame features a comprehensive tennis Museum that commemorates the greatest champions and contributors of the sport and chronicles the history of tennis from its 12th century beginnings through present day. Special exhibits paying tribute to the Hall of Fame Class of 2011 have recently been installed and will be showcased for one year.
In Andre Agassi: From Changing the Game to Changing Lives, visitors are treated to dynamic, colorful photos showcasing some of the most exciting and emotional moments of Agassi’s tennis career, as well as imagery of his work since retirement— namely, the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy. Additionally, the exhibit features a collection of memorabilia ranging from memorable tennis apparel to tennis trophies, along with a video reel of career highlights. The exhibit is displayed in the Atrium Gallery.
In the Billie Jean King WTA Gallery, Peachy Kellmeyer: The Soul of Women’s Tennis highlights the inspiring story of the woman who dedicated her life to growing women’s professional tennis from its humble beginnings to the popular, global sport the world enjoys today. The exhibit highlights notable moments in the history of women’s tennis, and features photos of Peachy with the women she has worked closely with for more than 35 years— such as Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova.
Andre Agassi, 40, of Las Vegas, Nevada, held the No. 1 singles ranking for 101 weeks, and is regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time. His passionate performances, non-traditional apparel and style, and extraordinary skill made him one of the most iconic athletes in the history of the game. He is credited for inspiring a generation of tennis players.
Agassi achieved a career singles record of 870-274, winning 60 titles, including four at the Australian Open, two at the US Open and one victory each at the French Open and Wimbledon. Within his 60 tournament wins, he captured 17 Masters 1000 events. In 1990, he won the season-ending ATP World Tour Championships. Agassi earned a Gold Medal at the 1996 Olympics by taking the Singles title in Atlanta. A member of two winning American Davis Cup teams (1990, 1992), Agassi achieved a career record of 30-6 in Davis Cup play for the United States.
Agassi turned professional in 1986 at the age of 16, and made his way into the top-100 in his first professional year, finishing the season ranked No. 91. He won his first Tour-level title in 1987, and closed out his second professional season ranked No. 25 in the world. In 1988, his year-end ranking was No. 3 and he surpassed $2 million in career prize money, after playing in just 43 career tournaments— the fastest anyone in history had reached that mark.
Agassi enjoyed a long, successful career through 2006, during which time he earned more than $30 million in prize money, fourth only to Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Rafael Nadal to date. In June 2003, at the age of 33, Agassi became the oldest player to hold the No. 1 singles ranking, a position that he held onto for twelve weeks. Agassi retired from professional tennis on September 3, 2006, after losing in the third round of the US Open. He delivered a memorable retirement speech and was honored with an eight-minute standing ovation from the crowd.
During his career and into retirement, Agassi has been a dedicated philanthropist. In 1994, he founded the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education, which is devoted to reforming public education in the United States. Since the inception of the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education, $150 million has been raised to benefit the mission of the Foundation, including $92 million from the Grand Slam for Children fundraising event. In May of 2011, Agassi partnered with Canyon Capital Realty Advisors on an innovative new real estate fund to promote the success and growth of best-in-class charter schools by building educational facilities in urban communities across the United States.
In 2001, Agassi opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, a tuition-free public charter school in Las Vegas' most at-risk neighborhood for kindergarten through grade 12. The school utilizes advanced technology, smaller class sizes and extended school hours, among other tactics, to combat lowered academic expectations and to foster a sense of hope among this community's most challenged children. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, the school’s graduating class had a 100% acceptance rate for higher education.
Agassi is married to retired professional tennis player and 2004 Hall of Famer Stefanie Graf, and they reside in Las Vegas with their two children.
Fern Lee “Peachy” Kellmeyer, 66, of Wheeling, West Virginia, became involved in the game as a talented junior player, went on to be a star collegiate athlete, and then launched an administrative career in tennis. During her career with the WTA, Kellmeyer has led the WTA’s operations, player and tournament relations and has been at the center of all major policy decisions. Kellmeyer currently serves as WTA Operations Executive Consultant. She is also a member of the ITF Fed Cup Committee and oversees the WTA’s alumni program to ensure that past players and tournament directors remain engaged with the WTA that they helped build.
Women’s professional tennis has come a long way during Kellmeyer’s tenure. Prize money on the WTA has increased from $309,000 in 1973 to more than $89,000,000 in 2011, and the number of WTA events has increased from 23 domestic tournaments to 53 events in 33 different countries. Attendance at WTA events has increased dramatically with nearly 5 million in-stadium fans annually, and television exposure has increased with hundreds of millions of homes receiving more than 6,000 hours of international TV coverage on an annual basis.
Simultaneously with her efforts to build women’s tennis, Kellmeyer has been a tireless fighter for women’s rights in sports. When she was the Physical Education Director at Marymount College in Boca Raton, Florida in 1966, Kellmeyer spear-headed a lawsuit that ultimately led to the dismantling of an Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) rule that had prohibited athletic scholarships from being awarded to female athletes at colleges across the nation. The landmark case paved the way for Title IX and contributed greatly to the increase of female athletes in intercollegiate athletics. Additionally, Kellmeyer was a driving force behind the WTA’s campaign to achieve equal prize money for women.
On court, Kellmeyer began winning junior titles as early as age 11. By the age of 15 she was competing at what is now the US Open, and she was the youngest player at the time to be invited to such a prestigious event. She went on to be a tennis star at the University of Miami, where she became the first woman to compete on a Division I men’s team. As an adult, Kellmeyer was ranked nationally in both singles and doubles, and was a competitor at Wimbledon and the US Open.
Hall of Fame Voting
A panel of international tennis media voted on the Recent Player inductee, where a 75% favorable vote is required for induction. The International Masters Panel, which consists of Hall of Fame inductees and individuals who are highly knowledgeable of the sport and its history, voted on the Contributor inductee. To be inducted as a Contributor, an affirmative vote of 75% is required. The International Tennis Hall of Fame also offers a Master Player Category for competitors in the sport who have been retired for at least 20 years prior to consideration, but there were no inductees in this category in 2011.
Hall of Fame Eligibility Criteria
Active as a competitor in the sport within the last 20 years prior to consideration; not a significant factor on the ATP World Tour 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.
Exceptional contributions that have furthered the growth, reputation and character of the sport, in categories such as administration, media, coaching and officiating. Contributor candidates do not need to be retired from their activities related to the sport to be considered.
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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, enshrining tennis heroes and heroines, and providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum was recognized as the sport's official Hall of Fame in 1986 by the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis. 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 218 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.