(March 8, 2016) Former No. 1 Justine Henin, who won seven major singles titles, and Marat Safin, a two-time major champion and former world No. 1 have been elected to receive tennis’ highest honor – induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Henin and Safin have been elected in the Recent Player Category for induction in the Class of 2016. In addition, Yvon Petra, a notable French tennis player of the 1940s, and Margaret “Peggy” Scriven, British tennis champion of the 1930s, will be inducted posthumously in the Master Player Category.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2016 inductees were announced this morning at a news conference in New York City in conjunction with World Tennis Day and the BNP Paribas Showdown.
Henin is the first Belgian inductee to the Hall of Fame and Safin is the first Russian player to be inducted. Since 1955, the honor of Hall of Fame induction has been awarded to 243 tennis champions and leaders representing 21 nations.
Eligibility criteria for the Recent Player 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 World Tour, WTA Tour, or Wheelchair Tennis 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.
Justine Henin, 33, of Belgium, was the world No. 1 player for 117 weeks. She was the year-end No. 1 three times, clinching the top spot in 2003, 2006, and 2007.
Marat Safin, 36, of Russia, is a two-time Grand Slam tournament champion. He held the world No. 1 ranking for nine weeks, and was in the world top-five for 119 weeks. Safin was regarded as a power player with strong groundstrokes and a particularly dangerous backhand.
Safin won his first major title at the 2000 US Open, when he defeated Pete Sampras. He is the first and only Russian man to have won the title. Safin went on to win the 2005 Australian Open with a victory over Lleyton Hewitt, defeating then world No. 1 Roger Federer in a five-set battle en route to the final.
Safin won 15 singles titles. In addition to his Grand Slam tournament titles, he won five ATP Masters 1000 tournaments. He compiled a career record of 422-267.
Safin was an integral member of the Russian Davis Cup team for 11 years. In 2002, he was instrumental in leading Russia to defeat France for their first Davis Cup victory. In 2006, he won the deciding rubber against Argentina to claim the title for Russia again.
Since retiring from the ATP World Tour, Safin has served on the Russian Olympic Committee and has worked with the Russian Tennis Federation. In 2011, he was elected to serve in the Russian Federal Parliament.
Yvon Petra was a notable French tennis player of the 1940s. His career success came at a challenging time, straddling World War II and its interruptions to the French Championships. Petra won the Wimbledon singles title in 1946, ending a 19-year drought of French victors and making him the last French man to have done so. Perhaps most notably, his historic Wimbledon victory came following five years as a prisoner of war in Germany.
In addition to his success at Wimbledon, Petra won two doubles titles and a mixed doubles title at the French Championships.
Petra was the No. 1 ranked player in France in the late 1930s, before the war. After his release, he went on to be ranked in the world top-5 in 1946. Petra was a member of the French Davis Cup team for five years between 1937 and 1947.
Born in 1916, Petra passed away in 1984.
Margaret “Peggy” Scriven, of Yorkshire, England, accomplished the rare feat of back-to-back French Championships titles.
She was the first British woman and only unseeded player ever to win the French National Championships, which she did in 1933. She successfully defended her title the following year, making her the last British woman to win the same major tournament for two consecutive years.
Scriven was the first left handed woman in tennis history to win a major tournament title.
A skilled clay court player, Scriven also won a mixed doubles and doubles title at the French Nationals.
Scriven was ranked among the world top-10 for three years, according to the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. She achieved the world No. 5 ranking in 1933 and 1934. She was a member of the Wightman Cup team for Great Britain in 1933, 1934, and 1938.
Scriven was born in 1912 and she passed away in 2001.
“It is a pleasure to announce the induction of Justine Henin and Marat Safin into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Justine and Marat committed themselves to the sport and worked relentlessly at being champions of the highest caliber. As a result, they achieved extraordinary careers with world No. 1 rankings and Grand Slam tournament victories. They led their nations to victories in Fed Cup and Davis Cup. They are rightfully a source of national pride in Belgium and Russia, and we are looking forward to welcoming them as the very first Hall of Fame inductees from those nations,” said Stan Smith, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987 and now serves as the International Tennis Hall of Fame President and Chairman of the Enshrinee Nominating Committee.
Smith continued, “Also this year, we remember and recognize the achievements of two of tennis’ great early champions – Yvon Petra, who claimed a Wimbledon title after five years as a prisoner-of-war, and Margaret Scriven, who won two back-to-back singles titles at the French Championships. Their success is part of the sport’s storied history, and we’re glad to recognize their accomplishments. We look forward to celebrating all of the inductees in Newport in July.”Of the induction, Justine Henin stated, “It’s a big honor. I was five years old when I started playing tennis and my dream was to become a champion. All of the things that then happened- all the dreams that came true, all the victories and Grand Slams, and every emotion that I lived in my tennis career remains something very important in my life today. Being part of the Hall of Fame says that it will remain something forever, and that is very special. I am really honored. ”
Marat Safin said, “I’m very happy to be inducted to the Hall of Fame. I want to say thank you to everyone who helped me and supported me throughout my tennis career. To be part of a Hall of Fame is every athlete’s dream. I am really honored to be inducted and proud to represent Russian tennis alongside the greatest champions of tennis history.”
Nominees for 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 eligible nominations and determines the ballot. The committee is comprised of 23 individuals from around the world with expertise in various areas of the sport. Individuals can be nominated in three categories – Recent Player, Master Player, and Contributor. There were no nominees in the Contributor Category this year.The Recent Player Voting Group, which consists of tennis media and Hall of Famers, votes on the Recent Player nominees. The Master Player & Contributor Voting Group, which consists of historians, Hall of Famers, and individuals who are highly knowledgeable of the sport and its history, will vote on the Master Player nominees.
To be inducted in either category, an affirmative vote of 75% of returned ballots is required. Votes are tallied by an independent accounting firm.
The Class of 2016 Induction Ceremony will be held on Saturday, July 16, 2016 during Rolex Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. The weekend will also feature museum tribute exhibits for the new Hall of Famers and celebratory parties and special events. The ceremony and festivities will be held in conjunction with the annual Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour event. Tickets for the event are on sale now on www.HallofFameTennisChampionships.com