Former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport, 5-time Paralympic champion Chantal Vandierendonck, legendary tennis coach Nick Bollettieri, tennis industry leader Jane Brown Grimes, and British tennis historian John Barrett were all presented the highest honor in tennis today - enshrinement in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. With thousands of cheering fans in the stands and perfectly pleasant summer weather, the Class of 2014 was celebrated in a grand ceremony on Center Court at Bill Talbert Stadium Court at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, R.I.
In addition to the new class of enshrinees, more than 15 Hall of Famers and many other great tennis personalities joined in the celebration. Chris Evert opened the ceremony with a speech to introduce Jane Brown Grimes.
Hall of Famer Brad Parks made a presentation speech as well, honoring Chantal Vandierendonck. Hall of Famer Angela Mortimer Barrett was also on the ceremony dais, looking on to see her husband John Barrett be enshrined. Lindsay Davenport was presented by her friend and Tennis Channel colleague Justin Gimelstob, Nick Bollettieri by broadcaster Mary Carillo, and John Barrett by fellow journalist and historian Steve Flink. Tracy Austin, Monica Seles, Gigi Fernandez, Pam Shriver, Vic Seixas, Rosie Casals, Peachy Kellmeyer, Bud Collins, Dick Savitt, Donald Dell, Charlie Pasarell, and Owen Davidson were also all in attendance.
Lindsay Davenport was enshrined in the Recent Player Category. Born and raised in California she is in great company with 12 other California tennis celebrities, such as Rosie Casals, Billie Jean King, Tracy Austin, Mary Browne, Dorothy Bundy Cheney, Maureen Connolly Brinker, Darlene Hard, Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman, Alice Marble, Elizabeth Ryan and Helen Wills Moody.
Six-time Grand Slam tournament champion Davenport held the world No. 1 ranking for 98 weeks. She was the year-end No. 1 four times, and is one of just six players to have held both the singles and doubles No. 1 ranking simultaneously. Davenport won three Grand Slam tournament singles titles, as well as three doubles titles. In all, she won an impressive 55 singles and 38 doubles titles, and she counts an Olympic Gold Medal from the 1996 Atlanta Games among her many accomplishments.
The ceremony closed with the enshrinement of former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport, who was introduced by her childhood friend and now Tennis Channel colleague, Justin Gimelstob.
"Our final inductee is someone I care very deeply about and respect very much. She personifies everything the International Tennis Hall of Fame is all about: excellence, class, professionalism, authentic performance and a deep respect for the game."
Davenport, ever the humble champion, took in the enthusiastic support of the fans, and then thanked the coaches, colleagues, and friends and family who supported her over the years.
"To be up here on this stage and to share it with all the greatness that is up here is overwhelming. I was five years old when I first hit a tennis ball and a racquet was put in my hand. I never wanted to learn another sport and I still don't. I loved playing this game. I never thought any of this would be possible. It always felt a little bit like an accident.This is an incredible honor for me, an amazing achievement. I will forever be humbled by this," said Davenport.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2014 will be honored in a tribute exhibit in the museum at the Hall of Fame for the year ahead. The exhibition features dynmaic photography of all the enshrinees, and artifacts such as all three of Davenport's Grand Slam singles trophies, Bollettieri's sunglasses, a chair that Vandierendonck used for playing tennis, imagery of Brown Grimes working alongside the sport's greatest leades, several of Barrett's books, and the white tennis balls that were in play at the 1980 Wimbledon final between Borg and McEnroe - for which Barrett did on-air commentary.