Kuerten to be inducted to the ITHF
March 8, 2012
NEWPORT, R.I. — One of Brazil’s most beloved and successful athletes, Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten, has been elected to receive the highest honor in the sport of tennis- induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Kuerten 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. Kuerten’s induction was announced today in a special presentation in São Paulo at the offices of Banco do Brasil, a long-time sponsor of the tennis champion. Brazilian media gathered with government and business leaders, as well as tennis industry leaders, including Hall of Famer Maria Esther Bueno, to celebrate the announcement. The 2012 Induction Ceremony will be held at the International Tennis Hall of Fame on July 14, 2012 in Newport, Rhode Island in the United States.
“During my career in tennis I was fortunate to have many victories, but the Hall of Fame induction is a special one,” said Kuerten, from the announcement in São Paulo. “I was inspired by lots of great tennis players, like Maria Esther Bueno and Thomas Koch, two of the biggest Brazilian tennis players, and I have also always greatly admired Hall of Famers including Borg, McEnroe, Sampras, and Agassi. To be honored in the same category as those great players is amazing.”
He continued, “Probably one of my greatest accomplishments was being able to get Brazilians excited about tennis, and to elevate attention for Brazil as a tennis nation. I’m so happy to be able to celebrate this honor here in Brazil with the people who supported my career, and I look forward to the induction celebration in the United States in July.”
Kuerten, 35, has been elected in the Recent Player Category. Additional members of the Class of 2012, who were previously announced, include Spanish tennis great Manuel Orantes, in the Master Player Category; tennis administrator and promoter Mike Davies in the Contributor Category; and Randy Snow, who has been elected posthumously in the Recent Player Category for his accomplishments as a wheelchair tennis player. The remainder of the Class of 2012 will be announced in the month ahead.
“King of the clay courts, Guga was one of the most popular players of his era, and he achieved tremendous success during a time when some of the greatest players in history were active, including Hall of Famers Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, and Michael Chang,” said Christopher Clouser, chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. “On behalf of the Board of Directors and the Enshrinee Nominating Committee of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, I extend sincere congratulations to Guga on this well-deserved honor. We look forward to celebrating with him and all of the Class of 2012 inductees in July.”
With Kuerten’s 1997 win at Roland Garros, he became the first Brazilian to win a major singles title since Hall of Famer Maria Esther Bueno’s 1966 U.S. Nationals victory. En route to the win he overcame three past champions of the event, and became the second-lowest ranked Grand Slam champion at the time (No. 66). In addition to his French Open titles, he reached the quarterfinals at the French Open in 1999 and 2004, and was a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon in 1999, at the US Open in 1999 and 2001, and at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
In 2000, Kuerten became the first South American to finish No. 1 in the history of the ATP World Tour rankings (since they began in 1973). The No. 1 year-end position came down to the final match of season for the first time in men’s tennis history, which Kuerten won with a 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory over Andre Agassi, breaking an eight-year reign of No. 1 finishes by Americans.
In the year 2000, inspired by his late brother, Guilherme, who had cerebral palsy, Kuerten opened the Institute Guga Kuerten to help disabled people. The institute is located in Kuerten’s hometown of Florianopolis, Brazil, and since its inception, it has assisted more than 40,000 people in over 168 Brazilian cities. While he was playing, Kuerten presented every one of his tournament trophies, including the French Open trophies, to Guilherme. Kuerten 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.
Located in Newport, Rhode Island, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history of tennis and honoring its greatest champions and contributors. Induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame is based on the sum of one’s achievements and accomplishments in tennis, and is the highest honor a player or leader in the sport can receive. Since 1955, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has inducted 220 people from 19 countries. Kuerten is the second Brazilian to be inducted, joining 1978 Hall of Famer Maria Bueno. The other South Americans who have received the honor are Gabriela Sabatini and Guillermo Vilas of Argentina, Pancho Segura of Ecuador, and Alex Olmedo of Peru.
Eligibility & Voting
Inductees to the International Tennis Hall of Fame are elected in the categories of Recent Player, Master Player and Contributor.
Kuerten has been elected to the Hall of Fame in the Recent Player Category. Eligibility criteria for this category is as follows: active as competitors in the sport within the last 20 years prior to consideration; not a significant factor on the ATP or WTA Tour within five years prior to induction; a distinguished record of competitive achievement at the highest international level, with consideration given to integrity, sportsmanship, and character.
A panel of International Tennis Media vote on the Recent Player Category. A 75% favorable vote is required for induction.
The Class of 2012 Induction Ceremony will be hosted on July 14 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, R.I. The ceremony is held in conjunction with the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour event. Tickets for that day include seats for the Induction Ceremony and the tournament semi-finals, and tickets are available now on tennisfame.com or by phone at 866-914-FAME (2363).
About the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum
Established in 1954, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving the history of tennis, inspiring and encouraging junior tennis development, providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide, and enshrining tennis heroes and heroines with the highest honor in the sport of tennis- induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In 1986, the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis, officially recognized the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum as the sport’s official Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is located in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on a six-acre property that features an extensive Museum chronicling the history of the sport and honoring the 220 Hall of Famers; 13 grass tennis courts and an indoor tennis facility that are open to the public and to a club membership; a rare Court Tennis facility; and an historic 297-seat theatre. Annually in July, the venue hosts the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships for the Van Alen Cup, an ATP World Tour event. The buildings and grounds, which were constructed in 1880 by McKim, Mead & White to serve as a social club for Newport’s summer residents, are renowned for their incredible architecture and preservation. The facility was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is supported by Official Partners including BNP Paribas, Campbell Soup Company, Chubb Personal Insurance, Kia Motors and Rolex Watch USA. For information on the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and its programs, call 401-849-3990 or visit us online at tennisfame.com.
Photo by Gabriel Bianchini