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Greats Gather In Melbourne

Evonne, Martina, and a very special announcement brought luster to the WTA's Asia-Pacific Alumnae and Friends Reunion.

Published January 27, 2011 06:55

Greats Gather In Melbourne
Stacey Allaster, Peachy Kellmeyer, Evonne Goolagong Cawley

MELBOURNE, Australia - The stunning home, garden and tennis court of Jeanie Brinkman Evans, who was the WTA's first publicity director in the 1970s, was the perfect setting for the 2011 Asia-Pacific Alumnae & Friends Reunion held in Melbourne on Thursday night.

Following on from earlier gatherings in Indian Wells, New York and most recently London, the event attracted some of the most distinguished figures in tennis. The list of former players who attended was headlined by Martina Navratilova and Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who between them share no fewer than 25 Grand Slam singles titles.

Pam Shriver, winner of 21 major doubles titles and a former No.3 in singles, served as emcee, while guests included many of Australia's best and brightest over the past four decades: Judy Dalton, Janet Young, Wendy Turnbull, Liz Smylie, Jenny Byrne and Nicole Pratt, to name a few.

Adding to the buzz surrounding the event, the chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Chris Clouser, flew in from the US to announce that the WTA's own Peachy Kellmeyer had been elected to the Hall of Fame in the Contributor Category. Kellmeyer, who was the WTA's first employee back in 1973, will be inducted in a ceremony in Newport, Rhode Island on July 9 - along with Andre Agassi.

"We are in the Commonwealth, so it is only appropriate that we toast the Queen," said the WTA's Canadian-born chairman and CEO, Stacey Allaster. "But tonight we toast our queen… Queen Peachy!"

"I'm thrilled, it's the moment of a lifetime for me," said Kellmeyer. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen. It makes it extra special to be able to have the announcement surrounded by my friends here in Melbourne, during the Australian Open."

Kellmeyer wasn't the only figure celebrated on the night. Dalton, one of two Australian members of the Original Nine, was presented with the Georgina Clark Mother Award. Although she couldn't be at the party, Billie Jean King - who beat Dalton in the 1968 Wimbledon final - sent a heartfelt message that was read to the assembled group by Shriver.

"Judy Dalton - known to all of us as Old Fruit - has guts, integrity and a great sense of humor," said King. "She is the type of person you want standing with you and she is proud to be there beside you... She also was great with money - and in those days it really helped!"

Dignitaries in attendance included ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti, former WTA chief executive Bart McGuire, and former WTA Board member Geoff Pollard, who retired as president of Tennis Australia last October. "For over 20 years, Geoff has been a true friend to women's tennis and we are grateful for all his contributions," said Allaster, who presented Pollard with a framed picture of Australian Open champions during his tenure.

Pollard's predecessor at Tennis Australia, Brian Tobin, was also present, as was the WTA's first secretary, former Swedish No.1 Ingrid Bentzer, and Hall of Famers Stan Smith, Frew McMillan and legendary tennis writer and commentator Bud Collins. 

Kellmeyer Headed For Hall Of Fame
Dalton Receives Georgina Clark Award

Click here for photos and video from the reunion.

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