Pucin: The Hall Of Fame Class Of 2014
Published July 12, 2014 12:12
NEWPORT, RI, USA - Lindsay Davenport is a mother of four, drives carpool, takes her kids to the park, walks the dog and will now be inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame.
Not bad for someone just 38.
Joining Davenport in this year's Hall of Fame class, and bringing to total number of members to 225 on the 60th anniversary of its founding in Newport, Rhode Island, are 82-year-old British tennis author John Barrett, Dutch wheelchair star Chantal Vandierendonck, 49; famed coach Nick Bollettieri, also 82, and Jane Brown Grimes of Chadds Ford, Pa., who has had executive leadership roles with the WTA, USTA and the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Brown Grimes said she teared up the morning she received the call and as for Davenport, she was in the hospital in labor, ready to give birth when she heard.
Barrett, 82, considered one of the sport's greatest historians, compiled a database that includes every match ever played at Wimbledon. He broadcast the world's most famous tournament from 1971 to 1986. His wife, Angela Mortimer, is also in the Hall of Fame, making them one of only two couples enshrined in the Rhode Island hall. The other? Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf.
"It's such a tremendous honor, unexpected, to come to me," Barrett said. "I could hardly believe it. I never thought I'd get the call Angela received in 1993."
Brown Grimes said she has been inspired to stay involved with the game because of Billie Jean King and Arthur Ashe.
"Those were great champions who transcended the sport," Grimes said. "They're part of our culture and they've had bigger roles than just tennis. Billie played such a huge role in gender equity and Arthur with apartheid and AIDS."
Brown Grimes said she is also proud to see the accomplishments of Serena and Venus Williams. She thinks they're playing a big role in the development of an up-and-coming group of young American women including Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys.
"This is a cyclical sport," Brown Grimes said. "The men may be in a down cycle but the US is going to produce more champions. It's also the fact the worldwide the sport is growing. I expect a big influx of top Chinese players soon."
Bollettieri said he also choked up when he heard he was being honored. His academy was the first to combine tennis and academics.
Vandierendonck, who spent 136 weeks ranked No.1 in the world in wheelchair tennis and who won the US Open, is only the third wheelchair player to be inducted into the Hall. "I'm also the first Dutch player at all," she said, "so it's all really just a dream."
"Growing up playing tennis, the Hall of Fame wasn't even in my dreams," Davenport said. "That was thinking a little too big for me to think you'll get such an honor. It's a little overwhelming and I can't even imagine how I'll be at the ceremony."
Davenport, who does announcing now for the Tennis Channel, said she finds it surprising, also, that she assumed a role that keeps her in the public.
"I never loved the limelight. I've been blessed to have been married five years, to have had a family and transitioned to a life after tennis that I'm happy in. I love my job and still get to enjoy the sport," she said.
"And that's the beauty of the sport. You can get into it in so many different ways and stay in it all your life if your want to.
"That's what makes tennis so interesting to me," Davenport said. "You meet people from all walks of life and there's not just one path to the top. I found tennis by accident. I had two parents who were athletic but who didn't pretend to know a lot about the sport but they instilled in me that it was important to follow the rules."
Diane Pucin has covered tennis for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Los Angeles Times and has been to all four Grand Slam events.