Tennis Hall of Fame – Tennis Legends
Those interested in the history of Tennis might be interested in visiting The International Tennis Hall of Fame in Rhode Island. The organisation was established as The National Lawn Tennis Hall of Fame in 1954 to acknowledge the achievements of American players. In 1972, it was decided that foreigners who had made a significant contribution to the sport ought to be honoured as well.
In addition to acknowledging the achievements of players, the Hall of Fame is dedicated to educating people about the history of the sport and encouraging youth participation. Visitors are welcome between 9am and 5pm on every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day for an admission fee of $9 for adults, $7 for concessions (senior citizens, military officials or students) and $5 for children. Family tickets can also be purchased for $23. Tennis fans can also visit the Hall of Fame website to learn more about the organisation or to read player biographies.
General enquiries and group bookings can be addressed by post, telephone or e-mail:
International Tennis Hall of Fame
194 Bellevue Avenue
Rhode Island 02840
Tel.: +1 (401) 849 3990
The achievements of some of the most famous Tennis stars in the history of the sport are listed below.
Andre Agassi finally retired in 2006 at the age of 36, after enjoying one of the most successful Tennis careers in living memory. Agassi remains one of only five players in the history of the sport to have won all four Grand Slam titles. As for many players, the victory which alluded Agassi for the longest was the Men’s Singles title at the French Open. After making a dramatic comeback from a two set deficit, he finally claimed the title in 1999, by defeating Andrei Medvedev 1-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in the Final of the tournament.
During the course of his career, Agassi won eight Grand Slam tournaments. He was one of the most popular players of the 1990s, frequently drawing attention to himself with his well-developed sense of fashion. His rivalry with compatriot Pete Sampras drew a great deal of public interest; any match which saw them pitched against each other was always guaranteed to draw a large audience.
Agassi was the object of great tabloid scrutiny for a time in 1996 following his split with the actress Brooke Shields. His personal troubles led to a slump in his career, but he recovered quickly and enjoyed a further ten years as a professional player before a back injury forced him into retirement. Agassi married fellow Tennis star Steffi Graf in 2001.
Boris Becker stormed onto the international Tennis stage in 1985, when he defeated Kevin Curran to become the youngest ever player to win Wimbledon, at the age of just 17. His power was immediately admired by observers and he acquired the nick-name ‘Boom Boom Becker’ on account of his formidable serve. He would win Wimbledon again in 1986 and 1989. He was finally ranked as the World Number One after his impressive performance in the 1991 Australian Open. By the end of his career, Becker had won 49 Singles titles (including 6 Grand Slams) and 15 Doubles titles. He also won a Gold medal for Germany with Michael Stich in the Men’s Doubles in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Björn Borg was born in Stockholm in 1956. He enjoyed a successful Tennis career which included eleven Grand Slam titles, including an impressive six victories at the French Open. Borg’s notorious icy exterior meant Tennis commentators tagged him with the nickname ‘Ice Borg’ relatively early in his career. This name never seemed more apt than when Borg faced his nemesis John McEnroe.
The intensity of McEnroe and Borg’s rivalry was never greater than during the famous Wimbledon Men’s Singles Final of 1980. Unfortunately for Borg, most Tennis fans look back nostalgically at McEnroe’s dramatic fourth set victory, and sometimes forget that Borg was the eventual victor in what is generally considered to be one of the greatest finals in the history of the tournament. The final score was 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (16-18), 8-6. During the course of his career, Borg amassed over $3 million in prize money. His achievements were recognised when he was inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987.
Connors won 109 titles during his career, including two Wimbledon Men’s Singles titles, off the back of his fantastic array of shots, most notably his incredible backhand. He also distinguished himself by becoming the only player to win the U.S. Open on all three surfaces on which it has been played: grass, clay and the hard court. A contemporary of Björn Borg and John McEnroe, the 1970s and early 1980s were the heyday of Connors’ career. In 1974, he came close to grasping a Golden Grand Slam, managing to win three of the four Grand Slam tournaments; only the French Open alluded him that year, as it would for the duration of his career.
For further study of Jimmy Connors then check out his specialist page here on TalkTennis.
Roger Federer looks set to become one of the greatest Tennis players of all time. Federer is currently the undisputed World Number One and has already won ten Grand Slam tournaments and won over $30 million in prize money. He has become particularly skilled on grass, and took the Wimbledon Men’s Singles title with relative ease for four consecutive years between 2003 and 2006.
Born in 1981 in Basel, Switzerland, the esteem with which Federer is held by his compatriots was recently made plain by the commission of a postage stamp bearing the Tennis star. Such an honour is unprecedented in Switzerland, as this accolade is usually reserved for long-dead national heroes. More information about Federer’s achievements and developments in his career can be found on his Official Website.
Steffi Graf is an undisputed Tennis legend. A number of pundits and polls have claimed that the former German star might even have been the greatest female player of the 20th Century. During the course of her career Graf won an incredible 22 Grand Slam tournaments, and accomplished the rare feat of winning all four Grand Slams in a single year (1988). She is also the only player to have won each of the four Grand Slams at least four times.
Graf was comfortable on all surfaces, reflected in the 377 weeks she spent ranked as the World Number One by the Women’s Tennis Association. Her Grand Slam victories were also complemented by many other Singles titles, two Olympic Gold medals (in 1984 and 1988) and a Silver medal in 1992. Graf was a member of the Fed Cup team for seven years.
Steffi Graf retired from professional Tennis in August 1999 at the relatively young age of 30 due to persistent knee problems. In the same year, she delighted tabloid editors by becoming involved with fellow Tennis player Andre Agassi. The couple were married in 2001 and have two children together.
For more on Steffi Graf then click here
Martina Hingis was born in Slovakia (formally Czechoslovakia) in 1980. She became the youngest ever Wimbledon Champion when she and her partner Helena Suková won the Ladies Doubles title when Hingis was only fifteen years old. By 1997, she had reached Number One in the world rankings, had won the Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles title and the Australian Open. She had also managed to deny Venus Williams the Women’s Singles U.S Open title. While injuries forced her to withdraw from the game in 2001, she made a return to professional Tennis in the 2006/2007 season.
Hingis has had quite a career – to read more about it then check out our page dedicated to her.
Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King was born in California in 1943. By the end of her career she had amassed a whopping 39 Grand Slam victories (12 Singles, 16 Ladies’ Doubles and 11 Mixed Doubles) and over $1 million in prize money at a time when tournaments did not have the immense purses typical today.
The American was ranked fourth in the world by 1960 when she was only seventeen years old, and first won a Wimbledon title, the Ladies’ Doubles, a year later. King’s contribution to Tennis did not end with her incredible achievements on the court. Both during her career and after her retirement, King’s dedication to securing equal opportunities (and, controversially, equal prize money) for women has been second to none. In recent years, the dedication of King and other advocates for complete equality has paid off; the French Open and Wimbledon will pay the winners of the Ladies’ and Men’s Finals equal amounts for the first time in 2007. Such developments have not been without serious debate though.
King is well remembered for defeating Bobby King in a match broadcast to over 50 million people from the Houston Astrodome in 1973. She defeated King 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 in the match which became known as the "Battle of the Sexes".
When most people think of John McEnroe, they recall his notoriously short fuse. His frequent displays of temper, including explosions such as "You cannot be serious!", earned him the nick-name "the Super-brat".
McEnroe is remembered for the tense Men’s Singles Final of 1980, when he finally succumbed to his great rival Björn Borg in the fifth set, despite an impressive victory in the fourth. He exacted his revenge on Borg later in 1980, and again in 1981, when he defeated the Wimbledon Champion at the U.S. Open. He took particular pride in representing the United States in the Davis Cup, an honour he perhaps took particularly seriously as a consequence of his father’s military background. Indeed, McEnroe was born in Germany, where his father was serving, in 1959 before moving back to New York as a toddler.
While McEnroe might have almost as many tantrums as aces to his name during his career, he will ultimately be remembered for consistently ranking amongst the top ten male players in the world for ten consecutive years. During that time, he accumulated an impressive seventeen Grand Slam titles: seven Singles'; nine Men’s Doubles; and one Mixed Doubles. McEnroe is now a popular tennis commentator.
As visitors enter the All England Club to watch Wimbledon each summer, they walk past a statue of Britain’s greatest Tennis hero. Fred Perry is the most successful British male Tennis star of all time. His achievements are all the more remarkable considering that he did not take up Tennis until he was eighteen years old; prior to being introduced to the sport, Perry had been a World Table Tennis Champion.
Born in Stockport in Cheshire in 1909, Perry went on to win each of the Grand Slam tournaments during the course of his career; the so-called Career Golden Grand Slam. He ranked amongst the top ten players in the world between 1931 and 1936, and was consistently ranked at Number One from 1934-6. Perry represented Great Britain a number of times in the Davis Cup, leading the team to the success which has alluded the national team in recent years. He died in Australia in 1995.
For more on the last male English Wimbledon Champion this click here.
Pete Sampras was born in 1971 in Washington D.C. He first captured international attention when he beat Andre Agassi in the final match of the U.S. Open at the age of only nineteen. The roots of a long rivalry were born during the match.
Sampras was always at his most comfortable on the lawns of Wimbledon. He often referred to Centre Court as his "Cathedral". He won his first Wimbledon title in 1993 and would dominate Centre Court for the duration of the 1990s, losing out only to Dutchman Richard Krajicek in the 1996 semi-finals. Fans who flocked to Wimbledon to see Sampras play became even more excited when he was pitched against Agassi. Yet his success was not restricted to Wimbledon alone; from 1993-8 Sampras was ranked as the World Number One on the basis of his success in a variety of Championships.
Monica Seles was born in Novi Sad in the former Yugoslavia in 1973. Seles has also represented the United States, as she became a U.S citizen in 1994. She became the youngest ever Champion of the French Open in 1990. She went on to win a further eight Grand Slam tournaments.
Seles’ career was interrupted in 1993 when she was stabbed in the back during a match in Hamburg in front of 6000 spectators. Her attacker turned out to be a mentally unstable man who was unhappy that Seles had usurped Steffi Graf from the Number One ranking. Fortunately, Seles’ injuries were not life threatening and she recovered quickly.
For more on Monica Seles then read our page on her.
There are few professional Tennis players who have had the experience of battling their way through the initial stages of a Grand Slam tournament only to look across the net in the Final to be confronted by their own sibling. This is, however, a scenario which the Williams sisters have become accustomed to in recent years. Venus and Serena are the two youngest of the five daughters of Richard Williams. They were raised in the rough L.A. suburb of Compton. Determined for his daughters to find a way out of their deprived neighbourhood, Richard Williams drilled them in the fundamentals of Tennis. When Serena and Venus showed clear aptitude for the sport, he started them on a carefully regimented training programme and began to enter them in youth competitions.
Serena was born in Michigan in 1981. Despite being a year younger than Venus, she managed to win a Grand Slam tournament before her sister. She subsequently won another seven Grand Slams and a number of other Singles and Doubles titles. Before 2002, Serena existed somewhat in the shadow of Venus, but emphatically bucked that trend when she won the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open that year. Since that point, she has been a prominent figure in women’s tennis, although her forays in other areas such as fashion have seen her influence dwindle.
Venus Williams was born in Lynnwood, California in 1980. Venus has had a career marked by winning and losing streaks, but her losing streaks have not detracted from an extraordinary record. She entered her first Grand Slam tournament, the U.S. Open, in 1997, where she became the first unseeded player to reach the Final. She was denied the title in that year, however, by Martina Hingis.
Venus fulfilled a dream in 2000 when she won Wimbledon after beating her sister in the the semi-final and her compatriot Lindsay Davenport in the Final. On the following day, she also claimed the Ladies’ Doubles title, with Serena as her partner. The sisters also played together in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, when they took home a Gold medal on behalf of the United States. Venus also managed to win the Gold medal in the Women’s Singles event.