Seles inducted into Hall of Fame

Seles inducted into Hall of Fame

Seles inducted into Hall of Fame

International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Monica Seles gestures as she holds her plaque during ceremonies in Newport, R.I. Saturday. AP

Joining the former women's world number one in the honor shrine were 1960s Spanish player Andres Gimeno, pioneer marketer Donald Dell and the late Robert Johnson, a junior player developer who helped launch the careers of black players Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe.

"What an amazing group," Seles said at the induction ceremony. "It's such a great honor. Standing here, I'm just a bundle of nerves.

"Growing up as a little girl, I could never dream I would be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I have a hard time believing it now."

Seles sat atop the WTA rankings for a total of 178 weeks and won the 1991 and 1992 US Opens, the 1990-1992 French Opens and the 1991-1993 and 1996 Australian Opens.

"I grew up on the WTA Tour. That was my home," Seles said. "I grew up in the media spotlight. It can be challenging at times."

Her 15-year career was interrupted in dramatic circumstances when she was stabbed in the back by a fanatical supporter of rival Steffi Graf during a 1993 match at Hamburg.

It would be 27 months before Seles would return to competitive tennis. She won her comeback event at the Canadian Open, reached the US Open final and then captured her final Slam crown at the 1996 Australian Open.

The Yugoslavian-born American won 53 singles titles and more than 14 million dollars in prize money. She donated many of her trophies to the honor shrine.

"I hope it will inspire young children to pick up a racket, hit a few balls and fall in love with the sport the way I did," Seles said. "I look forward to watching the sport and seeing how much faster it can get."

Seles poked fun at her habit of grunting whenever she struck the ball, giving the crowd one final edition.

"For old times sake, here it is - eeeunnh," Seles said with a smile. "I just had to do it."

Seles, the 2000 Olympic bronze medalist, was the youngest champion in French Open history at 16 1/2 years.

"When I won my first French Open at age 16, mom kept me from getting a big head by saying I had to be back downstairs for dinner," Seles said.

Gimeno became the oldest French Open men's winner by taking the 1972 title at age 34. He also reached the 1969 Australian Open final and the semi-finals of the 1968 French Open and 1970 Wimbledon tournaments. He won seven singles titles and reached a best ranking of ninth in the early days of the Open era.

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