AUSTIN, TX – Former WTA doubles World No.1 Gigi Fernandez was honored with a special presentation of her Hall of Fame ring at the USTA Annual Meeting hosted in Austin, Texas on March 24.
Fernandez was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2010, in recognition of a stellar career that saw her capture 17 major titles and two Olympic gold medals for the United States among a total haul of 69 doubles titles; in total, she spent 80 weeks on top of the rankings. She was also a Top 20 singles player, winning two titles and reaching the semis at Wimbledon in 1994.
The Hall of Fame has a tradition of presenting Hall of Famers with an official ring to commemorate the honor. Rings are not generally presented at the induction ceremony; rather, it is saved and presented at a place of particular meaning to the Hall of Famer and their fans.
Fernandez, who has stayed highly active in the sport since retiring from her playing career, specifically requested the ring be presented at the USTA Annual Meeting, which draws a crowd of well over 3,000 community tennis leaders from across the US. The ring was presented by former ATP World No.4 Todd Martin, who is now CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
"I really wanted to receive this ring here, because you all are the reason that I am back in tennis and that have really rediscovered my passion for the sport. Thank you," said Fernandez to a standing ovation.
Since leaving the professional tennis tour Fernandez has made a concerted effort to share her knowledge and passion with tennis players and tennis teachers. She has been involved in volunteer board service for the USTA and the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and has embraced roles to grow participation in tennis across a variety of age, gender and ethnic backgrounds. She has served as a tennis director at the club level and has held coaching roles for high school teams, college teams, and WTA players.
Additionally, Fernandez has developed several innovative new programs for teaching tennis to kids and adults. Most recently, she has connected with a national network of individual club players by delivering useful doubles strategy tips via online training tools and face-to-face clinics. In this new work, Fernandez says she has embraced the sport from an entirely different perspective.
As a result, in addition to receiving her ring, Fernandez was also honored with the Tennis Educational Merit Award at the meeting, recognizing notable contributions by those who have demonstrated leadership in tennis education in such areas as instruction, writing, organization, and promotion of the game of tennis.