In recognition of their remarkable careers and tremendous contributions to tennis, former world No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo, six-time Paralympic champion David Hall, and longtime tennis industry leader Nancy Jeffett were honored today with induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. The new Hall of Famers were celebrated in a grand ceremony, attended by thousands of fans and Hall of Famers including Billie Jean King, Pam Shriver, Vic Seixas, and Gigi Fernandez. International Tennis Hall of Fame Chairman Christopher Clouser and President Stan Smith led the ceremony. King, a Class of 1987 inductee, was also honored during the ceremony, when she was presented with her official Hall of Fame ring.
Amelie Mauresmo was not present at the ceremony as she is pregnant and was unable to travel. She was recognized by Stan Smith, who serves the Hall of Fame both as president and as chairman of the Enshrinee Nominating Commitee. Smith delivered a speech highlighting her outstanding career and accomplishments. Smith also relayed brief comments from Mauresmo, who has said, "It's an extraordinary honor to have my career celebrated alongside the greatest champions of our sport, people who I have admired so greatly all of my life."
David Hall, of Sydney, Australia, who is one of the world's most decorated wheelchair athletes, commented, "You feel the history of tennis here in Newport. I think to have wheelchair tennis included among this beautiful sport is incredible. For me to be here and to be considered a small part of that history of the sport that we love is just great for me. I'm very proud and honored to be here."
Hall was ranked world No. 1 in singles and doubles and he won every major title in the sport. A 6-time Paralympic medalist, Hall won medals in singles and doubles at the 1996, 2000, and 2004 Games. He won the Australian Open for Wheelchair Tennis an incredible nine times and the US Open eight times. He was also champion at the British Open seven times and the Japan Open eight times. Hall holds a remarkable career singles record of 632-111 and a career doubles record of 397-89. He was introduced for induction by his coach, Richard Berman.
In his acceptance speech, Hall commented, "Through those early days, after my accident, tennis was like a long-lost friend who had come back to me. Tennis has given me more than I could ever repay. It took me in directions I never imagined. It took me to faraway lands, forging friendships, and experiencing different cultures. It gave me a purpose, a direction, it filled me up when I needed it and rewarded me with great joy when I worked for it. I never dreamed I could be as successful as I was. When people recite my career stats, I still find it hard to comprehend. I had goals and I worked as hard as I could to reach them. I don't think of myself as special or extraordinary, I'm just a kid from Budgewoi who loved to hit balls that was blessed to be surrounded by great people."
Jeffett, who dedicated her life to growing the sport of tennis, was inducted in the Contributor Category. Jeffett was instrumental in advancing professional women's tennis and in developing opportunities for junior tennis development. She is a co-founder of the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation, an organization that inspires youth tennis through hosting major tournaments for juniors around the world, and which has contributed more than $4 million to player development- from tennis programs in public parks to professional tournaments. Jeffett was an early leader in the promotion of women's pro tennis through the Virginia Slims of Dallas, one of the most popular and important tournaments in the early years of the WTA Tour, and the first women's event to be televised and to award prize money. She was introduced by Hall of Famer Pam Shriver, who commented, "Nancy made an everlasting contribution to the community of women's professional tennis by being a risk-taking innovator, promoting women's professional tennis. She is one of the most respected citizens in the global tennis community."
Jeffett was joined at the induction ceremony by many of her family members and friends from around the world. She commented, "I've had an extraordinary life with tennis. I continue to. I'm planning on having a lot more influence on tennis. It's been a real love of the game that has brought me to this situation."
The International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2015 will be honored all year in the Hall of Fame's museum. Inclusive of the Class of 2015, the honor of induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame has been presented to just 243 people representing 21 nations.