By International Tennis Hall Of Fame
Fifty years ago this week, nine brave women took a stand against a growing disparity in prize money and playing opportunities for women in professional tennis by signing $1 contracts for the purpose of forming a new tournament for women. Two days shy of the fiftieth anniversary of this historic moment, the International Tennis Hall of Fame announced today that tennis’ Original 9 are among seven tennis greats who have been nominated for tennis’ highest honor – induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021 ballot features five accomplished athletes in the Player Category, and two nominees in the Contributor Category, which honors those who have made a transcendent impact on the sport.
On the Contributor Category ballot, the Original 9 are the first ever group to be nominated, as the honor has previously only been presented to individuals. The nine women who comprise the Original 9 are Americans Peaches Bartkowicz, Rosie Casals, Julie Heldman, Billie Jean King, Kristy Pigeon, Nancy Richey, Valerie Ziegenfuss, and Australians Judy Tegart Dalton and Kerry Melville Reid.
Also nominated in the Contributor Category is Dennis Van der Meer, legendary coach and “teacher of teachers,” who recognized the need and developed a universal manner of teaching tennis in order to grow the sport. Van der Meer, the founder of Professional Tennis Registry (PTR), is nominated posthumously.
In the Player Category, four ATP Tour greats and an accomplished WTA doubles specialist have been named as candidates on the ballot for the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021 in recognition of their outstanding careers.
The Player Category nominees are:
- US Open and Wimbledon champion and a former world No. 1, Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt
- United States’ Lisa Raymond, winner of 11 Grand Slam titles in doubles and mixed doubles
- 2003 French Open Champion and a former world No. 1, Spain’s Juan Carlos Ferrero
- Sweden’s Jonas Björkman, winner of nine major doubles titles and a former doubles world No. 1
- Two-time, back-to-back Roland-Garros champion Sergi Bruguera of Spain
Additional information about the Player Category nominees and the Contributor Category nominees is included below.
Billie Jean King, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in the Player Category in 1987, commented, “In a time where defying the odds and having a voice is more important than ever, it’s extremely rewarding to see the impact the Original 9 made 50 years ago can still be felt around the world today. There were three things we wanted for future generations. First, that they would have a place to compete. Second, that they would be recognized for their accomplishments, not just their looks. And, finally, that they could make a living playing professional tennis. Today’s players are living our dream. I was honored to stand with those eight women 50 years ago and am thrilled to see the Original 9 recognized by the International Tennis Hall of Fame today.”
I’d also like to add my congratulations to the other 2021 nominees. My friend and coach Dennis Van der Meer was a brilliant tennis mind and instrumental in our sport’s growth. Lisa Raymond, Lleyton Hewitt, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Jonas Bjorkman, and Sergi Bruguera are all champions, and I congratulate them on their nomination.”
Player Category nominee Lleyton Hewitt commented, “I’m incredibly honored and grateful to receive this nomination. I had so many great Australians to look up to while I was coming up in the sport. To know that my career is up for consideration to be recognized alongside the likes of Hall of Famers Tony Roche, John Newcombe, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Ken Rosewall, and so many other greats who I admired is just an amazing honor.”
TENNIS’ ULTIMATE HONOR
Induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame is the ultimate honor in tennis, representing a sum of the honoree’s achievements and impact as being at the highest possible level in the sport.
“This year’s nominees, players and contributors, have all made a tremendous impact in and around the sport of tennis in their own unique ways, on and off the court,” said ITHF President Stan Smith. “All five Player Category candidates have achieved incredible results on tennis’ biggest stages – Grand Slam titles, Olympic medals, and topping the world rankings. Dennis Van der Meer’s lasting impact is seen in work of thousands of coaches and teaching pros around the world every day.”
He continued, “Additionally, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the Original 9’s brave actions to create a opportunities for women to compete and have professional career in tennis, and we look at the sport’s massive success in the past 50 years thanks to their courage, it is truly my honor to be able to announce that the Original 9 have been nominated for the Hall of Fame.”
FAN VOTING & THE INDUCTION PROCESS
Now that the ballot has been set for the Class of 2021, voting will take place to determine who is to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. There is no minimum or maximum number of ballot nominees that can be inducted.
The ballot will go before the Official Voting Group, comprised of tennis journalists, historians, and Hall of Famers this fall. Additionally, the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Fan Vote presented by BNP Paribas will run October 1 – 25, for the Player Category nominees only.
Fan Voting offers tennis fans around the globe the opportunity to voice their opinions about who is deserving of Hall of Fame induction and to have an impact on the election outcome by casting a vote online at vote.tennisfame.com. The top-three vote getters in the Fan Vote will receive bonus percentage points on their Official Voting Group result.
The candidate with the highest result in the Fan Vote will receive three additional percentage points, while second and third place will receive two and one additional percentage points, respectively.
To be elected into the Hall of Fame, a candidate must receive an affirmative vote in 75% or higher of ballots submitted from the Official Voting Group or a combined total of 75% or higher from their Voting Group result and any bonus percentage points earned in the Fan Vote.
The results of the ITHF Fan Vote will be announced at the conclusion of the voting period.
The Class of 2021 Inductees will be announced in early 2021 with the Induction Ceremony slated to take place July 17, 2021.
Since its inception in 1955, the honor of Hall of Fame Induction has been granted to 259 great champions and contributors to the sport from 27 different nations.