Germany’s Michael Stich, a Wimbledon champion and former world No. 2, and Czech tennis legend Helena Suková, a 14-time major champion in doubles and mixed doubles, have been elected to receive tennis’ ultimate honor this year—induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
On Thursday evening, a celebratory announcement of the Class of 2018 will take place on Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open, when other Hall of Famers and tennis legends will gather on court to celebrate Stich and Suková’s election into the Hall of Fame.
Stich and Suková will be officially inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on July 21, during Hall of Fame Weekend in Newport, Rhode Island.
In becoming Hall of Famers, Stich and Suková join an elite group of just over 250 individuals hailing from 23 nations who have received the honor, which recognizes their careers as being among the most accomplished and impactful in the history of tennis.
Both Suková and Stich will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the Player Category. This is not a year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame’s other two categories – Contributor and Wheelchair.
“I’m very pleased to congratulate and welcome Michael and Helena in to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Michael’s laser focus and the versatility in his game made him a Wimbledon champion, and today, those skills and accomplishments make him a Hall of Famer. Helena put up outstanding results at all four Slams, the Olympics, and in WTA competition for nearly two decades,” stated Hall of Famer Stan Smith, who also serves as president of the Hall of Fame. “Being elected into the International Tennis Hall of Fame ensures that their careers and accomplishments will forever be distinguished as being among the greatest in our sport’s history. It’s a well-deserved honor for Helena and Michael, and we look forward to celebrating with them in Newport in July.
“It’s quite an honor to become part of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. I’m humbled to be included among this elite group of tennis athletes, many of whom I so greatly admired and was inspired by throughout my career,” commented Stich.
“Tennis has a storied history in the Czech Republic, and that history certainly played an important role in my tennis upbringing and my approach to the game. I grew up in a tennis family and being in awe of the accomplishments of legends like my mother, Vera, as well as Jan Kodes and Martina Navratilova. It was truly my joy and privilege to compete for my country, on the WTA tour, and among the greatest tennis players in the world. Today, I’m incredibly honored to be selected for the Hall of Fame, where the sport’s greatest in history are honored,” remarked Suková.
Michael Stich, Germany
Germany's Michael Stich was a versatile player with a full arsenal of skills that enabled him to achieve a ranking of world No. 2.
The highlight of Stich’s Hall of Fame career came in 1991 when he won the Wimbledon title, skillfully battling past two past champions and grass court stars in Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker. A year later, he partnered with John McEnroe to win the doubles title at Wimbledon in a 5 hour match that spanned two days. Stich made two more finals appearances at Grand Slam tournaments—at the US Open in 1994 and the French Open in 1996.
A skilled player at both the baseline and the net, Stich was successful on all surfaces throughout his career. In 1991 and 1993, he won professional tournaments on all four surfaces.
Stich appeared in 31 finals and won 18 career singles titles, including particularly momentous victories at season-ending events. In the 1992 Grand Slam Cup, Stich defeated Stefan Edberg, Richard Krajicek, Pete Sampras, and Michael Chang to win the title. A year later, he closed the season with wins over Michael Chang, Jim Courier, and Pete Sampras to capture the ATP World Championship title.
Stich was an accomplished representative of Germany throughout his career. At the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, he partnered with Boris Becker to win the Gold Medal in doubles. In 1993 Davis Cup final, he won all three points versus Australia to win the title for Germany.
Today, Stich is the Tournament Director for the German Open, an ATP 500 event in Hamburg. In 1994 he created the Michael Stich Foundation, a robust charity focused on programs aimed at HIV and AIDS awareness, as well as helping children in need.
Helena Suková, Czech Republic
Helena Suková, 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. Suková 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, she won 69 doubles titles and 10 singles titles.
Suková achieved a career Grand Slam in women's doubles, winning four titles at Wimbledon, two at the US Open, and one each at the Australian Open and the French Open. She partnered with her younger brother Cyril Suk III to win three mixed doubles titles at Grand Slam tournaments (2 Wimbledons, 1 French).
Hailing from a prominent Czech tennis family, Suková thrived in the sport from an early age. Her mother, Vera, was the 1962 Wimbledon finalist, and her father Cyril Suk II was the head of the Czech Tennis Federation. Suková was just 16 years old when she first cracked the WTA top-75 for the first time. Bolstered by a big forehand, a well-developed all-around game, and tremendous consistency, Suková built a successful career that spanned nearly three decades, winning titles in her teens, 20’s, and 30’s.
Throughout her career, Suková complemented the major titles with moments of extraordinary brilliance in which her tenacity as a competitor was undeniable. At the 1984 Australian Open, after losing the first set in a semifinal match versus Martina Navratilova, Suková powered back to win the match, snapping Navratilova’s record-setting 74-match winning streak in the process.
Another career highlight was the 1993 US Open, when Suková won an incredible 17 matches over the two weeks. She partnered with Todd Woodbridge to win the mixed doubles title, and with Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario to upset defending champions Gigi Fernandez and Natasha Zvereva for the women’s doubles title. In singles that year, Suková battled past Martina Navratilova and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario to book her spot in the final, where she fell to Steffi Graf.
Suková was an outstanding representative 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). Additionally, she won two Silver Medals at the Olympic Games, partnered with Jana Novotna (1988 and 1996).
Suková retired in 1998, and has stayed highly active in sports administration in the Czech Republic. She earned a doctoral degree as a psychologist at Palacky University.
Class of 2018 Induction Ceremony
The Class of 2018 will be officially inducted on July 21, during Hall of Fame Weekend at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. Tickets for the Induction Ceremony will go on sale in March. In addition, the class will be celebrated in a tribute exhibit in the museum at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, which will open in June and be displayed for one year.
Photo credits: Michael Baz, Getty Images, AELTC/Micky White, AELTC/Michael Cole