Courtesy of the ATP World Tour
Marat Safin was honored for his long and celebrated career by being inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on Saturday in Newport. The former World No. 1 accepted the honor in an on-court ceremony during the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships.
“I didn’t understand what I was doing in tennis, who I am and what I achieved, until I arrived here,” said Safin during his acceptance speech. “After these two or three days here, I realised that I didn’t appreciate the sport as much as I could. Now I’m doing it much more. It’s a big honour to be here.”
Safin was introduced by fellow Hall of Fame inductee and former World No. 1 Jimmy Connors, who said he had always admired the Russian for what he brought to the sport.
“He was emotional [and] played with passion. That’s what drew me to him,” said Connors. “When Marat took the court, you wanted to have the best seat in the house. You never know what were you going to get. The tennis, you expected. Everything else was a bonus. And I loved the show.”
Safin thanked a long list of people for his on-court accomplishments, including his sister and former WTA World No. 1 Dinara Safina. But his 10-minute speech was also peppered with the sense of humour that his fans came to know and love during his career.
“I also want to thank the ATP World Tour officials who stopped giving me fines for breaking and throwing racquets,” he joked. “Otherwise I’d be one of the sponsors.”
The Russian also paid homage to several of his peers whom he competed against, reflecting on his 12-year ATP World Tour career with fond memories.
“I’m a part of the last generation that could enjoy going out together. Gustavo Kuerten, Mark Philippoussis, and Philippoussis paying all the bills for all the nightclubs. What more could you ask for?” laughed Safin “We lived like a family. We traveled like musicians. It was more rock and roll.”