Li Na, Thomas Muster Among Eight Candidates Named to Ballot for 2019 Induction into International Tennis Hall of Fame
Joining Li Na and Thomas Muster as candidates on the ballot for the Class of 2019 are Jonas Björkman, Sergi Bruguera, Goran Ivanisević, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Conchita Martínez, and Mary Pierce. Voting by the official Voting Group, along with the all-new Fan Vote, will take place over the next six weeks.
NEWPORT, R.I., August 22, 2018 – Eight players hailing from seven different nations have been named as candidates on the ballot for the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019. Induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame is the ultimate honor in tennis, representing a sum of an athlete’s achievements as being at the highest possible level in the sport.
There are three former WTA stars and five former ATP World Tour greats on the ballot for 2019, all nominated in the Player Category. This is not an induction year for the Contributor Category, which honors great contributions to the sport off-court and is featured every four years, next coming up in 2021.
Now that the ballot has been set for the Class of 2019, it will go before an official Voting Group to determine who is elected. New for 2019, the election process will also feature a Fan Vote, in which tennis fans across the globe are encouraged to voice their opinions. Fan Voting will open on Monday, August 27 online at vote.tennisfame.com. Additional details about the voting process are included below.
“This is an exciting year for the International Tennis Hall of Fame election process, with a broad-ranging group of candidates and our first ever Fan Vote. The eight candidates on the ballot come from seven nations, and have achieved tremendous results on tennis’ biggest stages – winning Grand Slam titles and Olympic medals, and topping the world rankings,” stated ITHF President Stan Smith, who also serves as Chairman of the Enshrinee Nominating Committee. “They’ve also each had massive impact on the sport in their home nations as trailblazers, Olympic and Fed and Davis Cup Champions, first-time Slam winners from their countries, and great ambassadors for tennis. Each has done much for the sport and I hope we’ll see their many fans turn out to vote online to support their Hall of Fame candidacy.”
The candidates are:
Li Na, who is credited with creating a surge of interest in the sport in her country, stated “I’m very honored to be nominated for the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Tennis’ history in China is still young, and it’s been a privilege for me to be part of the sport becoming so popular there. I’ve loved to see so many young people get involved, and to see more of a presence from China on the tours. To be considered to be in the Hall of Fame alongside some of the best players in tennis history is a great honor for me and my country. I’m very proud and I am grateful for the nomination.”
Located in Newport, Rhode Island, the International Tennis Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization committed to preserving and promoting the history of tennis and celebrating its greatest champions. Since its inception in 1954, the honor of Hall of Fame Induction has been granted to 254 great champions and contributors to the sport from 23 different nations.
The results of the 2019 Fan Vote will be announced at the conclusion of the voting period in early October. The complete induction Class of 2019 will be announced in January at the Australian Open. The Induction Ceremony for the International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2019 will take place on July 20, 2019 in Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
ABOUT THE CANDIDATES
Former world No. 1 doubles player Jonas Björkman of Sweden won nine major titles and achieved a doubles career Grand Slam. He was twice a champion at the ATP World Tour Year-End Championships, and captured 54 doubles titles in all. In singles, Björkman reached a career high of world No. 4 and was a semifinalist at both the US Open and Wimbledon. A dedicated team player, Björkman played a major role on three Swedish Davis Cup championship squads.
Spanish clay court great Sergi Bruguera accomplished a massive feat when he won back-to-back titles at Roland-Garros in 1993 and 1994. His first title came against two-time defending champion Jim Courier, after Bruguera came back from being down 2-0 in the fifth set. Bruguera reached a career high ranking of world No. 3 and won 14 titles in all. He was a silver medalist at the 1996 Olympics.
Croatia’s Goran Ivanisević’s serve-and-volley style of play led him to great success on the grass courts of Wimbledon where he was a quarterfinalist once, semifinalist twice, and finalist three times, before winning the title in 2001. That year, ranked world No. 125, the big-serving lefty was granted a wildcard into the tournament. In a magical run to the trophy he knocked out three players who were former or future world No. 1’s en route to a five-set battle with Patrick Rafter in the final. Ivanisević is a two-time Olympic medalist, having won a singles bronze and doubles bronze, both in 1992.
Former world No. 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov was Russia’s first-ever major singles champion. In 1996 he won the French Open singles title, and also partnered with Daniel Vacek to win the doubles. No man since has won the singles and doubles titles at the same major. Kafelnikov was also the singles champion at the 1999 Australian Open, and he won four doubles majors (three at Roland-Garros, one at the US Open). In all, Kafelnikov won 26 singles titles and 27 doubles titles. He also won the Olympic Gold Medal at the 2000 Games and he was integral to Russia’s 2002 Davis Cup Championship.
In a 15-year career on the WTA Tour, Conchita Martínez won 33 singles titles and 13 doubles titles. She was the 1994 Wimbledon champion, defeating nine-time champion Martina Navratilova in the final. She was also a finalist at the Australian Open and French Open. Martínez reached a career high of world No. 2 and spent 190 weeks ranked inside the world top-5. The Spanish great represented her country with much dedication and success. She was a key member of five championship Fed Cup teams and a three-time Olympic medalist in doubles.
Former world No. 1 Thomas Muster of Austria won 44 titles in 55 final appearances. He was the 1995 French Open champion, and known as the “King of Clay” for his dominance on that surface. That same year, Muster won a career-high 12 titles in all. In 1989, hours after defeating Ivan Lendl in the Miami Open semifinal, Muster was struck by a drunk driver, which caused severe damage to his knee. Following surgery, during his recovery, Muster continued to train by hitting balls from a specially designed chair. He returned to the ATP World Tour in September of that same season, and enjoyed another full decade of competition. In 1997, eight years after the accident, Muster won the Miami Open title, one of eight top-level titles in his career.
Li Na, China’s first great tennis star, won two Grand Slam tournament singles titles, reached a ranking of world No. 2, and, as a result, was responsible for a dramatic shift in the level of interest in tennis in her nation. Her first major title came at the 2011 French Open, where she defeated top players including Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, and defending champion Francesa Schiavone en route to the trophy. In 2014, she won a second major title, this time at the Australian Open, where she was a finalist in 2011 and 2013. Li Na won nine titles in all and compiled a singles record of 503-188. Her career accomplishments, combined with her engaging personality, resulted in a transformative effect on the popularity of tennis in China. More than 116 million people tuned in to watch her French Open final, and participation and interest in the sport has soared since her playing days.
Four-time major champion Mary Pierce won singles titles at the Australian Open and Roland-Garros, as well as a doubles title at Roland-Garros and a mixed doubles title at Wimbledon. In her 1995 Australian Open victory, she won the title without losing a set. Five years later, the French player won both the singles and doubles titles at her home country’s Slam, defeating three-time champion Monica Seles and No. 1 seed Martina Hingis en route to the singles trophy. Pierce reached a career high of world No. 3 in both singles and doubles and won 18 singles titles and 10 doubles titles. She was key member of two championship Fed Cup teams.
ABOUT THE INDUCTION PROCESS – New Fan Vote Introduced for 2019!
Candidates on the ballot for International Tennis Hall of Fame induction are selected from nominations submitted by the general public and tennis community. The ITHF Enshrinee Nominating Committee, which meets annually in June, then reviews all nominations and determines the ballot. The committee is comprised of 23 individuals from around the world with expertise in various areas of the sport.
The ITHF Voting Group, which consists of tennis media and Hall of Famers, then casts their votes. To be inducted, an affirmative vote of 75% of returned ballots is required. Votes are tallied by an independent accounting firm.
New for 2019, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has introduced a Fan Vote component to the process. From August 27 through October 7, fans around the world are able to participate in the Hall of Fame election process by voting online at vote.tennisfame.com. The top three vote getters in the Fan Vote will receive bonus percentage points added onto their result from the Voting Group, to determine their ultimate final result. The candidate with the highest result in the Fan Vote will receive three additional percentage points, while second and third places will receive two and one additional percentage points respectively.
The results of Fan Voting will be announced at the conclusion of the voting period in early October. The overall results and the complete Induction Class of 2019 will be announced in January at the Australian Open. The 2019 Induction Ceremony will be hosted on July 20, 2019 in Newport, RI, USA.