May 1, 2016

On the Red Carpet with Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten at the Legends Ball

 

Gustavo Kuerten photo by Jennifer Pottheiser

By Karen Pestaina

NEW YORK, NY (September 7, 2012) – Tennis Panorama News caught up with recent inductee to the International Tennis Hall of Fame Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten at the Legends Ball held during the US Open at Cipriani’s on East 42nd Street.

Kuerten spoke about what it means to him to be in the Hall of Fame and his involvement in his foundation.

Gustavo Kuerten talks to Tennis Panorama News

 

 

From the International Tennis Hall of Fame website:

One of Brazil’s most beloved and successful athletes, Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten, received the highest honor in the sport of tennis– induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Guga was the world’s No. 1 player for 43 non-consecutive weeks, and he is a three-time major tournament champion, having captured French Open titles in 1997, 2000, and 2001. Gustavo Kuerten’s induction was announced in a special presentation in São Paulo at the offices of Banco do Brasil, a long-time sponsor of the tennis champion.

With his beaming smile, engaging personality, and high energy game, the lively atmosphere that Guga brought to tennis stadiums around the world was nothing short of extraordinary.  Universally adored by both fans and peers, the Brazilian star is quick to state that the feeling is mutual, and that this support was integral to his success.  

Often referred to as “King of the Clay Courts”, although it was not a final, Guga often cites his fourth round French Open match in 2000 as one of the most memorable and treasured of his career. After saving three match points for the win, Guga first etched his iconic heart in the clay court, in an expression of love for his fans.

In 1997, Guga was ranked world No. 66 and had just eight ATP World Tour level wins to his name when he entered Roland Garros. While no one may have seen Guga coming that year, when he lifted the champion’s trophy and thanked the fans with his giant smile, it was clear that a star had arrived.  In the years that followed, Guga became one of the most dominant clay court players of his time. He captured the French Open title again in 2000 and 2001, and won a total of 20 singles titles and 8 doubles titles.

Guga started playing tennis when he was six years old, and his family was always very much part of his career. His father, a talented player himself, first taught Guga the game, before tragically passing away when Guga was just eight years old. Guga’s mother supported her son’s career emphatically. His older brother, Raphael, served as his business manager. His younger brother, Guilherme, who had cerebral palsy, was undoubtedly one of his biggest fans. Guga presented Guilherme every one of his tournament trophies, including the coveted Roland Garros trophies.

In 2000, for the first time in history, the No. 1 year-end position came down to the final match of season. Guga defeated superstar Andre Agassi in the match, breaking an eight-year reign of No. 1 finishes by Americans. It was the first time that a South American had ever been ranked world No. 1, a position Guga held for 43 weeks over his career. 

That same year, Guga embarked on another important venture, to which he is still dedicated today. Inspired by his late brother, Guilherme, he opened the Institute Guga Kuerten to help disabled people. The institute is dedicated to providing developmental opportunities, sports, and education, as well as to promoting social inclusion throughout the nation. The institute is located in Guga’s hometown of Florianopolis, Brazil, and since its inception, it has assisted more than 40,000 people in over 168 Brazilian cities. Guga was awarded the ATP World Tour’s Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award in 2003, and in 2010, he was honored with the Philippe Chatrier Award by the International Tennis Federation. Currently, he works in order to win a new challenge: to support the social activities developed by Institute Guga Kuerten.

A national hero to Brazilians,  champion beloved by tennis fans worldwide, three-time winner at Roland Garros,  world No. 1, and now, a Tennis Hall of Famer, Guga Kuerten.

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Chris Evert – A Life Devoted to Tennis

NEW YORK, NY – From hoisting 157 singles trophies during her career on the court, to her current role as tennis commentator for ESPN, tennis hall of famer Chris Evert continues to be very active in the sport.

 

Evert was ranked No. 1 in the world for seven years, won 1309 matches, captured 18 majors titles, and won one slam each year for 13 years in succession.

 

Not resting on past laurels, the Floridian has stayed involved in the sport since she retired in 1989.

 

On Friday night the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum honored the Class of 2012 at the “Legend’s Ball”  at Cipriani – the inductees included Jennifer Capriati, Gustavo Kuerten, Manuel Orantes, Mike Davies, and Randy Snow (posthumously).

 

Also among the award recipients was Chris Evert, inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame back in 1995. She was being honored for her dedication to tennis and the positive impact she has made on the sport with the Eugene L. Scott Award. Scott was a US Davis Cup player, tournament director and the founder of Tennis Week magazine. He wrote a column for magazine called “Vantage Point.” Many referred to Scott as “the conscience of the game.”  He died in 2006. Former winner, Billie Jean King presented Evert with her award.

 

“I don’t win any trophies anymore for tennis on the court so it’s nice to receive a service award to put me back into the game and I never really retired,” the 57-year-old Evert said.

 

Past recipients of this award which were selected based on their commitment to communicating honestly and critically about the game, or has had a significant impact on the tennis world have been John McEnroe (2006); Andre Agassi (2007); Billie Jean King (2008); Arthur Ashe and his wife Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe (2009); Martina Navratilova (2010); and Dick Enberg (2011).

 

“I stopped playing professional tennis but it’s still my life and I still talk about it on ESPN and I write about it in Tennis Magazine, Evert said, “and I have a tennis academy. It’s been a great livelihood for me.”
Evert also reflected on this years’ US Open.

“It’s kind of a sad, bittersweet US Open,” Evert said due to the retirements of Kim Clijsters and Andy Roddick.

“It’s not really a happy US Open with those two players gone because they’re very well-liked and they had a lot of presence on the court lot of personality. But that’s how life is. We also saw the emergence of Laura Robson and some other young players. And we’re going to see some young players not. It’s kind of like the changing of the guard right now.”

Speaking of young players, Evert noted the success of a player in her own academy in Boca Raton, Florida. “We had one girl Anna Tatishvili get to the round of 16,” Evert said.  Tatishvili lost to Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 6-2.

“So she had been training with us for like 10 years. We have a lot of young kids and if their goal is to get a scholarship to college or to win their local tournament or to be on their high school team, it’s the same to us as if they’re going to be on tour.”

On top of her academy, her broadcast work for ESPN and her work as publisher and contributor roles for Tennis Magazine, Evert also hosts a charity event each year since she has been retired. Over the years, her philanthropic endeavors have raised more than 20 million dollars to fight against drug abuse and child neglect in Florida.

Her playing days may be long over, but it doesn’t stop her from serving the game that has been her life.

 

Karen Pestaina is the founder and editor of Tennis Panorama News.

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