Hingis, Long inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame

Newport (United States), July 14 (IANS) Former tennis great Martina Hingis was among others to be inducted into the International Hall of Fame here.

Thelma Coyne Long, Cliff Drysdale, Charlie Pasarell and Ion Tiriac also entered the elite group Saturday for their contribution to the sport.

Hingis, a former women's World No.1 in both singles and doubles who collected 15 Grand Slam titles in total, received the highest honour in tennis.

"I'd like to tell how deeply honoured and moved I am. I can only find words to express feelings I have now being a member of such an elite group our sport has elected to represent millions and millions of people worldwide playing tennis," the Swiss was quoted as saying by the WTA website.

"When I was a little girl, I didn't know there was a Hall of Fame. When I was at the top of my game, I did not know there was more than sports. Now, I am not sure if I deserve all of this but what more can I say? Thank you all."

Another inductee was Australian legend Long, who is now 94 years old and won a total of 19 Grand Slam titles between the 1930s and 1950s. Hall of Famer Rod Laver accepted Long's award on her behalf.

South Africa's Drysdale, 72, had a successful singles and doubles career which included rising to a career-high World No.4 and winning the 1972 US Open doubles title with Roger Taylor. Most importantly, he was a founder and the first president of the ATP World Tour from 1972-1974.

"It is a privilege and honour to be a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame," Drysdale, who has turned a commentator now, was quoted as saying by the ATP website.

Born a Puerto Rican and now a naturalised American, Pasarell was also honoured for his transformation of the Coachella Valley event into what is now the Indian Wells Open, an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament. The 69-year-old was also the top US player in 1967 and helped his country to their Davis Cup title a year later.

"This induction is indeed for me the ultimate honour and recognition that I can receive in the sport. Just imagine to be included in this hall among so many legends such as Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Rod Laver among others is a humbling experience," said Pasarell.

The 74-year-old Tiriac, who played Davis Cup for Romania for 15 years and won the Roland Garros doubles crown in 1970 with Ilie Nastase, has managed players including Guillermo Vilas, Goran Ivanisevic and Boris Becker, who won five majors with Tiriac.

"Once you finish, there always is going to be somebody who is jumping higher and running faster. If I look over my shoulder, I promise I don't regret one thing with my life, being a tennis player, a coach, a manager, a promoter, the way it was," said Tiriac.

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