Martina Hingis is the fourth youngest player to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
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Former No. 1 Martina Hingis was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I., on Saturday, leading a class of greats that included NJTL founder Charlie Pasarell, Ion Tiriac and Cliff Drysdale, who were honored for their contributions to tennis, and 94-year-old Australian Thelma Coyne Long, who was inducted in the master player category.
At age 32, Hingis is the fourth youngest player to be inducted into the hall of fame, joining Tracy Austin (30), Bjorn Borg (31) and Hana Mandlikova (32).
"Thank you, tennis," Hingis said during her speech at the induction ceremony. "You gave me the world, and now I honestly am out of words because there are no words to explain what I feel. You chose to give me a place here for eternity."
Born in Czechoslovakia and named after Martina Navratilova, Hingis moved to Switzerland as a child and represented that country throughout her playing career. She first made a name for herself in the tennis world in 1993, when she won the French Open junior title at just 12 years of age.
She turned professional two weeks before her 14th birthday and went on to win five Grand Slam singles titles - the 1997, 1998 and 1999 Australian Opens, 1997 Wimbledon and 1997 US Open - nine Grand Slam doubles titles and one mixed doubles title. She won 43 singles titles and 37 doubles titles overall and held the No. 1 ranking for a total of 209 weeks during her career.
Injuries forced Hingis into early retirement at the age of 22, but she made a brief comeback four years later and retired for a second time in 2007.
Pasarell, 69, had a successful playing career in which he achieved the No. 1 ranking in the United States in 1967 and was a member of the U.S. Davis Cup team for five years, including the championship team in 1968. He won 18 singles titles, including the U.S. National Indoor Championships in 1966 and 1967. He was also the NCAA Singles and Doubles champion in 1966 while playing for UCLA.
Originally from San Juan, P.R., and now a longtime resident of California, Pasarell's contributions as a tennis industry leader have spanned all levels of the sport and have been a driving force in the growth of tennis for more than 40 years. In 1971, as tennis was in the pivotal transition to the Open Era, Pasarell and a group of his fellow players founded the ATP, with the goal of giving players a voice in structuring the new professional game. Over the years, he has remained highly active in the leadership of the organization and the development of men's pro tennis.
A focus of Pasarell's tennis career has always been finding ways to utilize the game to give back to the community. At the height of his playing career, in 1969, Pasarell partnered with Arthur Ashe and Sheridan Snyder to launch National Junior Tennis League, an organization they founded to have a positive impact on at-risk children by introducing them to tennis to keep them off the streets and to encourage them to stay in school. Known today as National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL), the program is the largest grassroots tennis program in the United States, with more than 950 chapters.
Drysdale, 71, had a successful playing career in the 1960s and 1970s and a leadership role in the launch of the ATP Tour. After retiring, he turned his attention to tennis broadcasting and, for more than 30 years, has been one of the most respected voices in the sport.
Tiriac, 73, was a successful doubles player turned tennis power broker, who has been an influential tennis leader in roles ranging from coach to player manager to tournament promoter.
Long, 94, of Sydney, Australia, had a remarkable career for more than 20 years (1935-58), in which she captured a total of 19 Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. In 1952, she achieved a career-best ranking of No. 7 and completed an Australian triple by sweeping the singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles at the Australian Championships.