Tennis Hall of Famer Dorothy “Dodo” Cheney Passes Away at 98

Dodo Cheney photo courtesy of the International Tennis Hall of Fame

Dodo Cheney photo courtesy of the International Tennis Hall of Fame

(November 25, 2014)  –  The International Tennis Hall of Fame  announced on Tuesday the death of 2004 inductee Dorothy “Dodo” Cheney. She was 98 years old. She passed away surrounded by her family in Escondido, Calif. on November 23, following a brief illness.

Cheney first started playing as a young child and was an active competitor well into her 90s. Cheney won an extraordinary 391 gold balls – this is awarded by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) to winners of its national titles, amateur or professional, junior or senior. Among her 391 national titles, Cheney was a champion numerous times in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles, across various age levels, and on all surfaces.


In 1938, Cheney became the first American woman to win the Australian Championships (now known as the Australian Open). She was a runner up three times in women’s doubles at Grand Slam tournaments and four times in mixed doubles. In addition to her Australian Championships title, Cheney reached four semifinals at the U.S. Championships and one semifinal each at Wimbledon and the French Championships.


Cheney was ranked in the world top-10 in the late 1930s through mid 1940s. She reached a career high of World No. 6 in 1946. She was the No. 3 ranked player in the United States in 1937, 1938, and 1941. She competed against peers including Hall of Famers Helen Wills Moody, Alice Marble, Sarah Palfrey Cooke, and Pauline Betz Addie, among others.


Cheney was the daughter of Wimbledon and U.S. Nationals Champion, Hall of Famer May Sutton Bundy and U.S. Nationals Doubles Champion Tom Bundy. In 2002, at age 85, Cheney and her daughter Christie Putnam won the USTA National Grass Court Super-Senior Mother Daughter Championships.


Cheney was preceded in death by her husband, Arthur. She is survived by two daughters, Christie Putnam and May Cheney; a son, Brian Cheney; eight grandchildren; and fourteen great-grandchildren.


Cheney was passionate about the development of junior tennis players. In lieu of flowers, her family has suggested gifts to the junior tennis program of one’s choice in her memory.


A private memorial service will be scheduled at a future date.


Statement from USTA Chairman, CEO and President Dave Haggerty on the passing of Dorothy “Dodo” Cheney: 


“Dodo Cheney was one of the most prolific champions in the history of tennis and the personification of tennis truly being a lifetime sport. She played competitively into her 90s, and her remarkable grace, singular class and competitive spirit made her one of our sport’s greatest ambassadors. She will be sorely missed by the sport that she loved.”


A 2004 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee, Cheney was the personification of tennis as a lifetime sport. She became the first American woman to win the Australian Championships (1938) and reached the semifinals at every other major, including four such appearances at the U.S. National Championships.  Cheney went on to win more than 390 USTA National titles in a career that saw her play well into her 90s. She was 98.


International Tennis Hall of Fame to break ground on $15.7 million expansion and renovation project


(May 8, 2014) NEWPORT, R.I. -  The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, Rhode Island will break ground next Wednesday on the first project within a $15.7 million expansion and improvement project. The project will increase the campus size by approximately one acre and result in a world-class tennis facility and significant enhancements to a prominent Newport streetscape, Memorial Boulevard.

Next week’s groundbreaking ceremony is primarily focused on the first component of a campus-wide improvement project. This first phase includes the development of a new tennis facility and a new building to house locker rooms, a fitness area, retail space, and Hall of Fame offices. The new tennis facility will add three new indoor/outdoor hard courts to the property. The building, designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, has been designed to be complementary to the beautifully restored, historic buildings of the Newport Casino, in which the Hall of Fame is located.

The project is funded by the Match Point capital campaign. The four primary focus areas of the campaign, which will be implemented over the next two years, are to add additional tennis courts and facilities; to strategically expand the Hall of Fame’s footprint in a manner that is in keeping with Newport’s historic aesthetic and enhances the community; to upgrade the museum with new technology and enhanced exhibitions; and to improve campus-wide amenities including upgrades to the tennis stadium.


Charlie Pasarell Receives Hall of Fame Ring

 Left to right: Hall of Famers Mark Woodforde, Donald Dell, Butch Buchholz, Rosie Casals, Bud Collins, Roy Emerson, Brad Parks, Rod Laver, Hall of Fame President Stan Smith, Hall of Fame Chairman Christopher Clouser, Hall of Famer Charlie Pasarell, Hall of Fame CEO Mark Stenning, BNP Paribas Open Tournament Director Steve Simon, Charles Pasarell, Sr., and BNP Paribas CEO Ray Moore. Photo by Billie Weiss

Left to right: Hall of Famers Mark Woodforde, Donald Dell, Butch Buchholz, Rosie Casals, Bud Collins, Roy Emerson, Brad Parks, Rod Laver, Hall of Fame President Stan Smith, Hall of Fame Chairman Christopher Clouser, Hall of Famer Charlie Pasarell, Hall of Fame CEO Mark Stenning, BNP Paribas Open Tournament Director Steve Simon, Charles Pasarell, Sr., and BNP Paribas CEO Ray Moore. Photo by Billie Weiss

By Kevin Ware

(March 14, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – As tournament director and managing partner, Charlie Pasarell was instrumental in helping to build the Indian Wells tournament into the world-class event it has become. So it was more than fitting that he received his official International Tennis Hall of Fame ring last night on the Stadium 1 court, in front of an adoring crowd, before the start of the evening session.

Pasarell was inducted into the Hall of Fame last summer. But the International Tennis Hall of Fame has a wonderful tradition of presenting the ring at a home location that affords the best opportunity for the inductee to be surrounded by as many family and friends as possible.

The stadium ring ceremony was a public affair. The celebration dinner afterward, emceed by Pam Shriver, was much more intimate; attended by some Pasarell’s immediate family, as well as his extended family in the tennis community.

Also on hand were several other Hall of Fame members, many of whom spoke glowingly about their friend and fellow-inductee. Those in attendance included Hall of Fame President Stan Smith, Donald Dell, Bud Collins (pants as colorful as ever), Butch Buchholz, Brad Parks, Rosie Casals, Billie Jean King, Roy Emerson, and Mark Woodforde.

Pasarell, with his father and son looking on, was just as moved by this moment as he was at his official induction in Newport. After an encore viewing of his video tribute, and hearing the touching tributes of his friends, it was obvious to see how touched he was by this moment.

Looking out at the familiar faces, his voice at times struggling to control his emotion, Charlie offered a simple, “Thanks to all my friends who are here today. I’m touched by all the support.”

Kevin Ware is in Indian Wells covering the BNP Paribas Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

Photos from the private party held before the ceremony.


Tennis Hall of Famer Louise Brough Clapp Dies at 90


(February 4, 2014) –  The International Tennis Hall of Fame announced the death of Tennis Hall of Famer Louise Brough Clapp, a former world No. 1 player and the winner of 35 major titles. Brough Clapp, who was 90 years old, passed away at home with her family in Vista, Calif. on February 3, following a brief illness.


Brough Clapp was enshrined in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1967.
At the Grand Slam tournaments, Brough Clapp won a total of 35 titles- six in singles, 21 in doubles, and eight in mixed doubles. She and her contemporary Doris Hart are tied at fifth on the all-time list for winning the most major titles, behind only Margaret Court, Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, and Margaret Osborne duPont.


She appeared in 21 of the 30 finals contested at Wimbledon from 1946 through 1955 in singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles, ultimately winning 13 titles. In 1950, she achieved a rare triple- winning the titles in singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. In 2010, she traveled to Wimbledon to celebrate the 60th anniversary of this great accomplishment.


Brough Clapp partnered with Margaret Osborne duPont to form one of the sport’s most successful doubles pairings. Together, they won 20 titles at majors (12 U.S., five Wimbledon, three French). From 1942 through 1950, Brough Clapp and duPont won nine consecutive women’s doubles titles at the U.S. Championships, which remains the longest championship run in history in any event at any Grand Slam tournament.


In all, Brough Clapp won 13 titles at Wimbledon, 17 titles at the U.S. Championships, 3 titles at the French Championships, and 2 titles at the Australian Championships.


Brough Clapp was ranked in the world top-10 from 1946 through 1957, reaching a career high of world No. 1 in 1955. She was included in the year-end top-10 rankings issued by the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA) from 1941 through 1950 and from 1952 through 1957. She was the top-ranked U.S. player in 1947. Her 16 years in the USLTA top-10 trails only Billie Jean King (18 years) and Chris Evert (19 years).


Born March 11, 1923 in Oklahoma City, Okla., Brough Clapp moved to Beverly Hills as a small child. She grew up playing tennis on the public courts at Roxbury Park, and launched her career with great success as a junior player. She won the U.S. 18-and-under title in 1940 and 1941.


Brough Clapp was pre-deceased by her husband, Dr. A.T. Clapp. She is survived by two nieces and two nephews. Funeral services will be private.


Tennis Hall of Fame Holds Annual Legends Ball in New York City


(September 6, 2013) NEW YORK CITY -The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum held their annual Legends Ball, presented by BNP Paribas, on Friday, September 6 at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City. The Legends Ball will paid tribute to the Hall of Fame Class of 2013 and honored will honor several additional people and organizations who have contributed greatly to tennis by presentation of special awards.

Proceeds of The Legends Ball, which has been held annually since 1980, will benefit the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and support the mission of preserving the history of the game, honoring the legends and inspiring the future.

Here are a few photos of the event:

2013 Hall of Famers – 19 Hall of Famers were on hand

2013 Hall of Famers – 19 Hall of Famers were on hand


Tommy Hilfiger & his wife Dee

Tommy Hilfiger & his wife Dee


Emcee Lara Spencer of Good Morning America welcomes HOF’ers Pam Shriver, Chris Evert, Monica Seles

Emcee Lara Spencer of Good Morning America welcomes HOF’ers Pam Shriver, Chris Evert, Monica Seles


Tennis Channel’s Ken Solomon, Collette Bennett of Rolex and Mark Stenning, CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame

Tennis Channel’s Ken Solomon, Collette Bennett of Rolex and Mark Stenning, CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame


Hall of Famer Charlie Pasarell, HOF Board Member Robb Bunnen and Hall of Famer Stan Smith

Hall of Famer Charlie Pasarell, HOF Board Member Robb Bunnen and Hall of Famer Stan Smith

Rod Laver joins Hall of Fame Chairman Chris Clouer and his wife Patsy

Rod Laver joins Hall of Fame Chairman Chris Clouer and his wife Patsy


Chris Evert with Jamie Reynolds, Vice President, Event Production ESPN

Chris Evert with Jamie Reynolds, Vice President, Event Production



The 2013 International Tennis Hall of Fame Inductions Reveal the Importance of Growing the Sport

Martina Hingis

Martina Hingis

by Jack Cunniff

(July 13, 2013) NEWPORT, R.I. – While Martina Hingis headlined the International Tennis Hall of Fame ceremonies  as 2013 Recent Player inductee, the event had the decided feel of an Old Boys club, with contemporaries Cliff Drysdale, Ion Tiriac, and Charlie Pasarell sharing the stage as inductees in the Contributor category.

The most decorated of the newest members was actually Thelma Coyne Long, inducted in the Master Player category.  Playing from 1935-1958, Coyne Long amassed 20 titles at Grand Slam events while playing from 1935 – 1958, including 19 in her native Australia.   Her best discipline was Women’s Doubles, in which she won 13 Women’s Doubles titles.  Coyne Long, 94, lives in Australia and couldn’t travel to Newport, RI for the induction, so countryman Rod Laver accepted on her behalf.  Laver shared Coyne Long’s accomplishments, not just as a tennis champion, but as a World War II hero.  She was awarded an Australian War Medal in recognition of her service in the Red Cross and Australian Women’s Army.

While Laver himself wasn’t being inducted – that event occurred over 30 years ago, in 1981 – he was frequently mentioned by the other honorees.  There was a great brotherhood displayed by the 2013 class, as they shared stories of each other.  It was obvious that these individuals and their contributions helped to grow the sport, and Hingis’ closing comments would reveal why those contributions make a difference beyond sport.

Ion Tiriac, a former Top Ten player from Romania, was the next inducted, presented by Senator George Mitchell.  While a fine player in his era, Tiriac’s induction was the result of his broad contributions to the sport: as a coach, manager, promoter, and tournament director.  In his comments, Tiriac reminisced about a five set French Open loss to Laver, and three Davis Cup losses to Stan Smith, who was in attendance as a member and President of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.  Tiriac, who won the 1970 French Open Men’s Doubles with fellow Romanian Ilie Nastase, noted that today’s players make millions of dollars, but “they’re never going to have the ties that we had,” acknowledging the close friendships cultivated with his former competitors.

Cliff Drysdale, like Tiriac, was an accomplished player who has become better known for his other contributions to tennis.  Drysdale was presented by his son, Greg, who marveled at his father’s 34-year career in tennis broadcasting.  In fact, “Cliffie” was part of ESPN’s first tennis broadcasts back in 1979. Drysdale, born in South Africa but now a U.S. citizen, spoke fondly of his generation of players as well.  He shared his memories of the locker room emptying out to watch Laver hit topspin backhands, and Pasarell’s “cockamamie” dreams of forming the Association of Tennis Professionals.  Cliff also thanked his ESPN colleagues in attendance: Patrick McEnroe, Chris Folwer, Chris McKendrick, and Pam Shriver.

The third Contributor inducted was Charlie Pasarell. Pasarell was the top-ranked American player in 1967, but beyond his on-court accomplishments, he co-founded the National Junior Tennis League and was tournament director in Indian Wells.  Pasarell was a former UCLA teammate and roommate of the late Arthur Ashe, and it was Arthur’s wife Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe who presented Charlie.  The rain showers that briefly interrupted the ceremonies were “tears of joy” from Arthur for his good friend’s achievement.  The breadth of Pasarell’s accomplishments in tennis was evident by the long and varied list of people he thanked in his comments.

While the most recent Contributor members of the Hall of Fame shared memories of their generation, the Recent Player inductee, Martina Hingis, is from a different age.  Only 32-years old, Hingis is one of the youngest Tennis Hall of Fame inductees.  In her era, Hingis didn’t face the challenge of growing tennis as a professional sport.  Instead, the international scope of tennis provided Hingis an opportunity to escape from behind the Iron Curtain.  Born in Czechoslovakia in 1980, Hingis’ mother and coach, Melanie Molitor, saw tennis as a means for relocation and greater opportunity in Switzerland.  Hingis, was named for the legendary player Martina Navratilova, and she noted that the original Martina was not just a great player but also a symbol of freedom, having defected from Czechoslovakia in 1975.  Hingis’ tennis accomplishments are vast.  Fifteen titles in Grand Slam events, including five singles titles and a calendar year Grand Slam in Women’s Doubles in 1998. Over 200 weeks spend as the top ranked woman in the world.  Eighty-one total titles in her career, including 43 singles titles.  But Hinigs didn’t focus on those achievements in her comments.  Instead she explained that the sport, grown through the dedication of her 2013 Hall of Fame inductees, gave her freedom and a better life.


Bob Hewitt Suspended from International Tennis Hall of Fame

From the International Tennis Hall of Fame:

NEWPORT, R.I., U.S.A., November 15, 2012 – The Executive Committee of the International Tennis Hall of Fame has voted to indefinitely suspend South African tennis player Bob Hewitt from the Hall of Fame. Hewitt was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992. The suspension of Mr. Hewitt follows a comprehensive investigation conducted by Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP into multiple allegations brought concerning sexual misconduct involving Mr. Hewitt and minor students that he coached. The investigation was led by Michael Connolly, a former Assistant United States Attorney.


“Suspension of Mr. Hewitt is appropriate given the serious allegations that have been made and the findings presented to our Executive Committee,” said Mark Stenning, CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. “After carefully considering the issue, we commissioned a thorough investigation by outside legal counsel. Our Executive Committee considered the findings of the investigation and has voted to suspend Bob Hewitt indefinitely. We feel suspension is the proper course of action on behalf of the Hall of Fame, the women who have made these allegations, and our sport.”



Behind the Scenes at the 2011 Tennis Hall of Fame Inductions

By Jack Cunniff

On Saturday, July 9th, just a few hours before their inductions into the Tennis Hall of Fame, 2011 inductees Andre Agassi and Fern “Peachy” Kellmeyer met with the media to share thoughts on their careers, Hall of Fame inductions, and futures.   Christopher Clouser, Chairman of the Tennis Hall of Fame, moderated the discussion in the Casino Theater at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island.

The morning featured some light-hearted moments.  Kellmeyer, as she acknowledged in her Hall of Fame speech later that afternoon, recognized she wasn’t the headliner of the day.  When the early part of the press conference focused on Agassi, Kellmeyer showed her appreciation when posed a question: “Thanks for asking me a question; I’m so happy!”  And Agassi said the Hall of Fame tribute helped him put his career in perspective: “the journey, the choices, bad choices,… outfits, hair.”  But both of them were obviously moved by the honor of becoming the latest Tennis Hall of Fame inductees.

Early Careers

Agassi spoke about the important role that the Stratton, VT event played in his career.  In 1986, the then sixteen-year-old Agassi upset world No. 12 Tim Mayotte, en route to a quarterfinal contest against John McEnroe.  When rain delays interfered with match scheduling, the Agassi-McEnroe quarterfinal match started play on an outside court.  In response, some of the Stadium Court crowd marched to the outside court, began to shake the fence around it, and demanded the match be moved to the Stadium Court. Eventually, the match was moved and McEnroe completed a victory over his young opponent.  When he returned to Stratton in 1987, Agassi admitted he was struggling with his game and nervous because of the ranking points he had to defend from the prior year.  But he came through a big second round match, defeating the reigning Wimbledon champion, Pat Cash, before losing a close match to world No. 1 Ivan Lendl in the semifinals.  Stratton helped put Agassi on the map.

Kellmeyer reminisced about her first day on the job for the Women’s Tennis Association. It was in Houston, the site of the first WTA event.  And oddly, it was snowing in Houston.  Being a brand new tour, it was missing some basic items: there was no rule book and no prize money breakdown.  So while Kellmeyer and the late Gladys Heldman worked to write a rule book and calculate prize money, Gladys’ two cats brought in dead birds from the Houston cold. “That was my first day on the job, watching a bunch of dead birds come in.”

Growing Up With Tennis

The pressure Agassi was under to succeed in tennis started when he was very young.  When he first played, he was playing for others, not himself.  It wasn’t until Agassi was 27 that he says he finally “chose tennis” for himself.  Agassi explained he was in Germany, having dropped down to No. 141 in the world, and he gave himself permission to quit the sport.  And once he did that, Agassi chose tennis and started to play for himself.  For his last nine years in professional tennis he was able to play and love the sport.

Kellmeyer spoke about growing up in Charleston, West Virginia with a father and brother who played multiple sports.  A self-described tomboy, Kellmeyer would follow her brother to the tennis courts after school; her passion for tennis started at a very young age.

Career Highlights

Agassi mentioned the 1999 French Open victory as one of his most satisfying moments.  It was not only the fact that he won the event, and secured the final Grand Slam event in his portfolio, but he also completed his comeback from “rock bottom”. In winning the event, he lifted his ranking up from No. 141 back into the top ten, and secured one of his biggest titles of his career just weeks after his divorce (to actress Brooke Shields).  Agassi also noted that his last match, at the 2006 U.S. Open, was a moment he will never forget.  The reception of 23,000 New Yorkers cheering him for his career accomplishments was a moving experience.

Kellmeyer said one career highlight was working closely with her hero Billie Jean King. But the moment in her career that was most meaningful to Kellmeyer came in 2007, when Roland Garros and Wimbledon followed the Australian and U.S. Opens in granting equal prize money to the women players, meaning all four Grand Slam events would reward equal prize money to men and women.

The Honor of Being Inducted

When asked about the reception of family and friends to the Hall of Fame announcements, Agassi provided an immediate example by reading from his phone a congratulatory text message from former pro Justin Gimelstob.  Agassi said his induction is even more special because he has experienced the Hall of Fame from the fan’s perspective when he witnessed wife Steffi Graf’s induction in 2004. When asked for his reaction to the new section of the Tennis Museum dedicated to Agassi’s career, Agassi’s first thought was “Gosh, there’s a lot of cameras in here!”

Kellmeyer also received accolades in response to her Hall of Fame announcement. She shared that she never before had as many flowers in her room.  She nicknamed Chris Clouser her “Santa Claus”, because it was immediately following the holidays that Clouser flew down to Melbourne to announce Peachy’s entry into the Hall of Fame at a player meeting.

What the Future Holds

Agassi has gone on record many times to share that tennis is a means to an end.  It’s enabled him to do his life’s work, the ability to change other’s lives for the better though the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas.  Agassi finds his work today more rewarding than anything he’s experienced on the tennis court.  As for the future of tennis, Agassi hopes junior players are pursuing their own passion and not someone else’s.

While Kellmeyer still works for the WTA as a consultant, she intends to stay involved in the sport by planning alumni reunions for former WTA players.  She also feels it’s important for tennis to remain the number one sport in the world for women professional athletes.  While she’s proud of her role in paving the way for Title IX, that work has opened up multiple different sport opportunities for women. Kellmeyer feels it’s the responsibility of the tennis establishment to continue to promote the sport, and it’s important that she play a role in that.

And Some Final Words…

When asked about his tagline from the 80s, “Image is Everything,” Agassi said he doesn’t think he could come up with a new slogan for his life today.  When “Education is Everything” was suggested, Andre acknowledged “That works for me at the moment.”

It was noted that Kellmeyer has a court named after her at the Charleston WV Tennis Club, and she shared a story in response. Kellmeyer returns to her hometown once a year, and when she does, she drives by the club to make sure they haven’t taken her name down, chuckling “I don’t have many things named after me.”



Agassi’s Inspirational Remarks Highlight 2011 Tennis Hall of Fame Inductions


By Jack Cunniff

NEWPORT, Rhode Island – On Saturday July 9th, 2011, the International Tennis Hall of Fame inducted its two newest members: eight-time Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi, and Fern Lee “Peachy” Kellmeyer.  Under bright, sunny skies, a packed house of 3,710 witnessed the latest inductions along with the friends and family of the honorees.  Christopher Clouser, Chairman of the Tennis Hall of Fame was master of ceremonies, held on Center Court at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island.

Kellmeyer, the first employee of the Women’s Tennis Association, was the first to be celebrated Saturday in the category of Contributor.  Stacy Allaster, Chairman and CEO of the WTA, performed the honors by providing opening remarks for Peachy.  She spoke of how Kellmeyer made tennis history very early in her life.  In 1959 Kellmeyer was, at the time, the youngest woman to play in the U.S. Championships at age 15, and later was the first woman to compete on a Division I men’s collegiate tennis team.  Allaster also acknowledged Kellmeyer’s role in Title IX legislation, by suing to overturn the practice of universities refusing scholarships to women.

In her acceptance speech, Kellmeyer thanked those that helped her through the years, and those that believed in her when she didn’t believe in herself.  She cited the late Gladys Heldman and Billie Jean King who were responsible for laying the foundation for the women’s tour.  Once the WTA was created, Peachy said, “I had a job.”  Kellmeyer also acknowledged the support of friends and co-workers, including Stephanie Tolleson and Larry Scott.

Kellmeyer grew up in Charleston, West Virginia, with her parents, her brother Freddie, and her sister Kay.  She inherited “my grandmother’s name, Fern Lee, and I also inherited a club foot.”  While it was easy for her to get rid of the name Fern Lee, it wasn’t as easy to get rid of a club foot.  But through this, Kellmeyer learned the lesson “you don’t have to be 100% to give 100%.”

As Kellmeyer herself said, she wasn’t the main attraction Saturday, but was happy to play opening act for Andre Agassi.  Simone Ruffin, an 18-year-old 2009 graduate of the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, NV, introduced Agassi.  Ruffin, salutatorian of the 2009 class and now a student at Concordia University, charmed the crowd by talking about her “hometown hero”.  She spoke of Agassi’s skills on the tennis court and his ability to put fear in the hearts of his opponents.  He wasn’t perfect, “there was that mullet thing,” she joked about Agassi’s 1980s hairstyle.  But more important than his tennis skills has been Agassi’s commitment to the children of Las Vegas.  His efforts to give back to his community have lead to the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, a children’s medical facility, and a Boys and Girls club.  Ruffin sited his service and guidance as what makes him “one of the greatest men of all time.”

Agassi began his comments by sharing that his father Mike recently asked him during a Q&A session Andre was giving in Las Vegas, “How do you know when to stop telling your kids what to do?” While Agassi was caught off guard at the time, and didn’t know what to say, he answered his father today. Explaining that his father told him to win Wimbledon, to win all four Grand Slams, to become a Tennis Hall of Fame Champion, and to marry Steffi Graf, Agassi’s response was: “Dad, don’t ever stop telling me what to do.”

Agassi thanks tennis whenever he thinks of the students in his Las Vegas school, whenever he thinks of his wife and children, and whenever he thinks of his plans for the future.  While he “fell in love with tennis far too late in his life,” he has tennis to thank for making all these possible.  He credited tennis for teaching him his life lessons.  He noted that tennis uses the language of life: “service, advantage, break, fault, love.”  He learned that “what I do instantly affects what you do, and vice versa,” and that there’s no such thing as perfect.  In a lighthearted moment, Agassi explained tennis is a lonely sport which is why so many players not only talk to themselves, but answer.  But that loneliness taught him to stand alone.

Others that Agassi noted in his remarks were Arthur Ashe, who showed courage by treating others fairly, while he himself was often treated unfairly, and Billie Jean King, who brought change to society through women’s equality.  He thanked his parents, Mike and Betty, his brother Phil, his trainer Gil Reyes, past coaches Nick Bollettieri, Darren Cahill, and Brad Gilbert, and finally his wife, Stefanie Graf.  Agassi told the crowd that he wrote each of them letters of thanks that he’s posting on his website to serve as a public tribute to them.  He spoke of an influential meeting with Nelson Mandela, who told Agassi, “We must live our lives carefully.” Taking that advice to heart, and being true to his character, Agassi pulled himself up from rock bottom, and achieved the number one ranking – not an accomplishment, but “a reflection of an accomplishment, the symptom of good choices, and the result of being careful.”

He closed the day’s celebration by sharing his personal mission statement:  that we have a responsibility to each other, and that it’s never too late to be inspired and to change. “We are here to do good quietly, to shine in secret, to give when there’s no crowd applauding, to give of ourselves to someone who can offer us nothing.” He encouraged his children, son Jaden and daughter Jaz, and all young children to reach for their dreams, because no dream is impossible.  It was an inspirational speech that moved the Newport crowd, and worthy of a Hall of Fame induction.

Tennis legend Andre Agassi reacts after winning a point against fellow legend Pete Sampras during their exhibition match at the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden in New York February 28, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT TENNIS HEADSHOT)

“Attitude is a choice” – Martina Navratilova Accepts Eugene Scott Award at Tennis Hall of Fame’s Legends Ball

Annika Sorenstam, Polly Scott, Martina Navratilova, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe.  Navratilova received the 2010 Eugene L. Scott Award from the three womenat the 2010 Legends Ball to benefit the International Tennis Hall of Fame at Cipriani 42nd Street in NY City on Sept. 10, 2010.

September 10, 2010 – New York, NY – International Tennis Hall of Fame Legends Ball- Cipriani 42nd StreetMartina Navratilova was presented with the Eugene L. Scott Award at the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Legends Ball. Listen to her acceptance speech  as she spoke about her attitude, cancer and the rules she would like to see implemented in the current game.

(MP3 file)

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On Itunes:


From the International Tennis Hall of Fame:
The Eugene L. Scott Award,presented annually since 2006, honors an individual who embodiesScott’s commitment to communicating honestly and critically about thegame, and who has had a significant impact on the tennis world. Scottfounded Tennis Week magazine and wrote the most widely read andwell-respected column about the sport, “Vantage Point” until his deathin March 2006. Previous recipients of the award have been: John McEnroe(2006); Andre Agassi (2007); Billie Jean King (2008); and Arthur Asheand his wife Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe (2009).