Class of 1992
Contributions to Tennis
Philippe Chatrier was a doer, and as a result, he could take the credit for being one of the game’s most accomplished administrators. His leadership, vision, and unwavering work ethic towards building tennis into a vibrant international sport place him in a small and elite category. He fostered sweeping change and policies that will be imbedded into the game for generations to come. As President of the International Tennis Federation and the French Tennis Federation, he staunchly fought for the return of tennis to the Olympic Games, resurrected his native major tournament the French Open into a premier international sporting event, and increased registered tennis players in France from a scant few hundred thousand to a couple million participants. Chatrier was determined to evolve and modernize tennis. He had equal resolve in honoring and maintaining the game’s tradition and heritage.
Chatrier was a single-minded, unwavering force in bringing tennis back to Olympic competition. It debuted in 1896, but vanished in 1924. It was not included as an official Olympic event from 1928 to 1988, though it was an exhibition sport in both 1968 and 1984, thanks to Chartier’s efforts in the latter year. He adeptly resurrected tennis as a medal sport in 1988 in Seoul.
French champion Yannick Noah’s rise to tennis fame has a direct correlation to Chatrier. Noah, then an 11-year-old from Cameroon, was personally introduced to Chatrier by Arthur Ashe in 1971. Chatrier saw a glimpse of the future in Noah and enrolled him into the French Developmental Program. Twelve years later Noah won the French Open, becoming the first Frenchman since Marcel Bernard in 1946 to win at Roland Garros. It was a proud moment for the federation leader who continued to witness the fruits of his work mature when France won the Davis Cup in 1991 by defeating the United States, ending a 59-year drought. The national number of players registered took a gargantuan leap, growing steadily from 224,000 to 1,350,000, and became the envy of other like organizations working to grow their playing base.
In recognition for his service to French tennis, the main tennis court at the Stade de Roland Garros, the home of the French Open in Paris, was renamed the Court Philippe Chatrier in 2001.
Chatrier himself was a player and tennis journalist. He was France’s junior champion at age 17 in 1945, and a captain of the Davis Cup squad in a non-playing role from 1969 to 1972. He stopped playing competitively in 1953, launching Tennis de France, the nation's first tennis magazine.
''I'll always regard him as the father of international tennis,” said Francesco Ricci Bitti of Italy, Past International Tennis Federation President.