Justine Henin, a former WTA Tour world No. 1 and seven-time major champion, Marat Safin, a two-time major champion and former world No. 1 on the ATP World Tour, and Helena Sukova, who won 14 major titles in doubles and mixed doubles, have all been nominated for induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. All three are nominated in the Recent Player Category for induction in the Class of 2016. In addition, Yvon Petra, a notable French tennis player of the 1940s, and Margaret Scriven, British tennis champion of the 1930s, have been nominated posthumously in the Master Player Category. There are no nominees in the Contributor Category for 2016.
QUOTES / NOMINEE REACTION
"Throughout their careers Justine Henin, Marat Safin, and Helena Sukova all consistently demonstrated their excellence as tennis players and their commitment to our sport. They worked relentlessly toward tennis' top goals and as a result, achieved world No. 1 status, won the sport's top trophies, and inspired fans and peers worldwide. They've left a lasting and positive impact on tennis and it is a pleasure to announce their nomination to receive our sport's highest honor, induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame," said Stan Smith, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987 and now serves as the International Tennis Hall of Fame President and Chairman of the Enshrinee Nominating Committee.
Smith continued, "Also this year, we recognize the achievements of two of tennis' great early champions—Yvon Petra, who claimed a Wimbledon title after five years as a prisoner-of-war, and Margaret Scriven, who won two back-to-back singles titles at the French Championships. Their success is part of the sport's storied history, and we're glad to recognize their accomplishments."
Of the nomination, Justine Henin commented, "The Hall of Famers are individuals who I have admired from the time I was a young girl, throughout my career, and to this day. To be nominated for induction into this group and to have my career recognized in this way is a great honor, and I thank the committee for the nomination."
Marat Safin commented, "To be part of a Hall of Fame is every athlete's dream. It is a great honor to have my tennis career recognized in this way, and I am proud to represent Russian tennis with this nomination for such a prestigious honor in our sport."
Helena Sukova stated, "It is a great honor for me to be selected as a nominee for the Hall of Fame. Being recognized as part of tennis history is all I can ask, now that my playing days are over. The International Tennis Hall of Fame is the most prestigious group of legends in the sport, and it is an honor to have my career recognized with a nomination for this most esteemed stage."
Voting on the Hall of Fame ballot will take place over the next several months, culminating with an announcement early next year to reveal the Class of 2016. The Induction Ceremony will take place on Saturday, July 16, 2016 during Rolex Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island.
ABOUT THE NOMINEES
Recent Player Category: Justine Henin, Marat Safin, and Helena Sukova
Justine Henin, 33, of Belgium, was the world No. 1 player for 117 weeks. She was the year-end No. 1 three times, clinching the top spot in 2003, 2006, and 2007.
Powered by an explosive and unique one-handed backhand, Henin won seven Grand Slam singles titles, including four French Open titles, three of which were consecutive. In addition to her French Open titles, Henin won two US Open titles and an Australian Open title. Henin won 43 singles titles in all, including 10 WTA Tour Tier I / Premier Mandatory & Premier 5 titles. She compiled an extraordinary career record of 525-115.
While smaller in stature than many of her competitors, Henin was applauded for her mental toughness and an outstanding all-around game. She was known for a powerful forehand, superior volley skills and court coverage, and her famous one-handed backhand.
In 2004, Henin won the Olympic Gold Medal in Athens. She was a dedicated Belgian Fed Cup team member, leading the team to their first Fed Cup title in 2001 and into the finals again in 2006.
Since retirement, Henin's ventures have included running a tennis academy in Belgium, as well as a foundation dedicated to medical needs of children.
Marat Safin, 35, of Russia, is a two-time Grand Slam tournament champion. He held the world No. 1 ranking for nine weeks, and was in the world top-five for 119 weeks. Safin was regarded as a power player with strong groundstrokes and a particularly dangerous backhand.
Safin won his first major title at the 2000 US Open, when he defeated Pete Sampras. He is the first and only Russian man to have won the title. Safin went on to win the 2005 Australian Open with a victory over Lleyton Hewitt, defeating then world No. 1 Roger Federer in a five-set battle en route to the final.
Safin won 15 singles titles. In addition to his Grand Slam tournament titles, he won five ATP Masters 1000 tournaments. He compiled a career record of 422-267.
Safin was an integral member of the Russian Davis Cup team for 11 years. In 2002, he was instrumental in leading Russia to defeat France for their first Davis Cup victory. In 2006, he won the deciding rubber against Argentina to claim the title for Russia again.
Safin is the older brother of former WTA Tour player, Dinara Safina. They are the first and only brother–sister tandem in tennis history to have both achieved world No. 1 rankings.
Since retiring from the ATP World Tour, Safin has served on the Russian Olympic Committee and has worked with the Russian Tennis Federation. In 2011, he was elected to serve in the Russian Federal Parliament.
Helena Sukova, 50, of the Czech Republic, was the world No. 1 ranked doubles player for 68 weeks and she won 14 Grand Slam tournament titles in women's doubles and mixed doubles over the course of her career. Sukova also had a noteworthy singles career, achieving a career high of world No. 4 and reaching the final two times each at the Australian Open and the US Open.
In all, Sukova won an impressive 69 doubles titles and she compiled a doubles record of 752-220. She achieved a career Grand Slam in women's doubles, winning four titles at Wimbledon, two at the US Open, one at the Australian Open, and one at the French Open. In addition, she won one WTA Championships doubles title.
In singles competition, Sukova had a winning record of 614-307 and she won 10 singles titles. One of her most notable singles victories was when she defeated Martina Navratilova in the semifinal round of the 1984 Australian Open, ending Navratilova's historic 74-match winning streak.
Sukova was a standout competitor for her country, as an integral part of the Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic Fed Cup teams for 13 years. She was a playing member of four championship teams (1983, 1984, 1985, 1988). In 2014, she was awarded the Fed Cup Award of Excellence, a joint award presented by the ITF and the Hall of Fame in recognition of her contributions and dedicaiton to Fed Cup. Additionally, she won two Silver Medals at the Olympic Games, partnered with Jana Novotna (1988 and 1996).
Sukova’s brother, Cyril Suk III, is a former professional player as well. The siblings teamed up to win three Grand Slam tournament mixed doubles titles, at the French Open in 1991 and at Wimbledon in 1996 and 1997.
Sukova retired in 1998, and in 1999, she helped re-establish the International Lawn Tennis Club of the Czech Republic and became its president. She remains active in tennis, and is a co-founder of the Kids and Junior Tennis Advancement Organization in the Czech Republic. From February 2001 through November 2008 she served on the Presidium of the Czech Olympians' Club and in June 2007 she was appointed by the Czech Olympic Committee to the Presidium of the Czech Fair Play Club. Additionally, she is a member of the Champions for Peace Club, a group of elite athletes committed to serving peace in the world through sport, created by Peace and Sport Organization. Sukova earned a doctoral degree as a psychologist at Palacky University and since February 2011, she has served as vice president of the Association of Sport Psychologists.
Master Player Category: Yvon Petra and Margaret Scriven
Yvon Petra was a notable French tennis player of the 1940s. His career success came at a challenging time, straddling World War II and consequent interruptions to the French Championships. Petra won the Wimbledon singles title in 1946, ending a 19-year drought of French victors and making him the last French man to have done so. Perhaps most notably, his historic Wimbledon victory came following five years as a prisoner of war in Germany.
In addition to his success at Wimbledon, Petra won two doubles titles and a mixed doubles title at the French Championships.
Petra was the No. 1 ranked player in France in the late 1930s, before the war. After his release, he went on to be ranked in the world top-5 in 1946. Petra was a member of the French Davis Cup team for five years between 1937 and 1947. Born in 1916, Petra passed away in 1984
Margaret Scriven, of Yorkshire, England, accomplished the rare feat of back-to-back French Championships titles.
She was the first British woman and only unseeded player ever to win the French National Championships, which she did in 1933. She successfully defended her title the following year, making her the last British woman to win the same major tournament for two consecutive years.
Scriven was the first left handed player in tennis history to win a major tournament title. A skilled clay court player, Scriven also won a mixed doubles and doubles title at the French Nationals.
Scriven was ranked among the world top-10 for three years, according to the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. She achieved the world No. 5 ranking in 1933 and 1934. She was a member of the Wightman Cup team for Great Britain in 1933, 1934, and 1938. Scriven was born in 1912 and she passed away in 2001.