The International Tennis Hall Of Fame announced today that former world No. 1 and two-time major champion Lleyton Hewitt, the trailblazing Original 9 of women’s professional tennis, and innovative coach and tennis teacher Dennis Van der Meer will be the recipients of the ultimate honor in tennis this year, induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Hewitt, who amassed 30 singles titles during his 18-year career on the ATP Tour and was instrumental in two Davis Cup victories for Australia, will be inducted in the Player Category. In addition to being elected by the Hall of Fame’s Official Voting Group of media, historians, and Hall of Famers, Hewitt also came in first place in the Hall of Fame’s Fan Voting, a global vote among a ballot of five candidates which took place late in 2020.
On September 23, 1970, the Original 9 took a bold action that would forever change the course of tennis history. In a stand against the growing disparity in prize money and playing opportunities for women in professional tennis they signed $1 contracts with World Tennis Magazine publisher Gladys Heldman to compete in a new tournament for women. Eight of the women entered the draw and Rosie Casals claimed that first title. The resounding success of the event led to the creation of the Virginia Slims circuit and paved the way for today’s WTA Tour, where women’s tennis flourishes as the world’s leading global sport for women.
The Original 9 are the first ever group to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, 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.
Van der Meer, a Namibian native who later became a U.S. citizen, was a legendary coach of top players and a teaching professional who recognized the need for, and subsequently developed, a standardized manner of teaching tennis in order to effectively grow the sport. Known as a “teacher of teachers”, Van der Meer founded both the Van Der Meer Tennis University and the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR), a leading tennis industry organization that works to educate, certify, and serve tennis teachers and coaches. Van der Meer will be inducted posthumously, as he passed away in 2019.
“It’s a pleasure to welcome these tennis greats into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Lleyton Hewitt always competed hard until the last ball was hit, and this is very apparent in the Hall of Fame resume he built, which includes a Wimbledon trophy, a US Open trophy, two Davis Cup victories, and being world Number 1,” commented International Tennis Hall of Fame President Stan Smith in a press release. “The Original 9 were true trailblazers in tennis history. It took a lot of courage to do what they did, and we have today’s incredible WTA Tour to thank for it, as well as opportunities for women in so many other sports. It is also a pleasure to celebrate Dennis Van der Meer, who was a tremendous coach, teacher, and real visionary for the future of the sport.”
INDUCTION CEREMONY & CELEBRATION – IN-PERSON & VIRTUAL
The Induction Ceremony for the Class of 2021 is scheduled to be held at the International Tennis Hall of Fame on Saturday, July 17, 2021. The 2020 ceremony was canceled due to Covid-19, and therefore the induction ceremony will also honor Class of 2020 inductees Goran Ivanisevic and Conchita Martinez.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame will offer a variety of in-person and virtual events and experiences throughout the induction weekend, July 16 – 18, 2021, to ensure that fans across the globe can safely participate in celebrating these legendary players and leaders in the sport.
“As we look ahead to the summer months, we are moving forward with plans for a terrific celebration in Newport to honor not just one, but two inspiring induction classes of Hall of Fame greats. We are planning these events with the health and safety of all guests as the top priority. In addition to the traditional in-person ceremony and celebration, we are developing a variety of virtual programs so fans around the world can easily and safely participate,” stated Todd Martin, CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame in a statement.
Planned virtual celebrations include access to online question and answer chats with the inductees, a pre-ceremony red carpet show, behind-the-scenes museum tours with the Hall of Famers, and access to view the ceremony itself, among other programs.
In-person and virtual ticket packages are available to purchase now on tennisfame.com/enshrinement.