Photo: Rien HokkenChantal Vandierendonck (NED)
Five-time Paralympic gold medallist and three-time ITF Wheelchair Tennis World Champion Chantal Vandierendonck was today announced as one of five people elected for induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2014.
Vandierendonck, who is to become the first female wheelchair tennis player to be enshrined, is joined in the Class of 2014 by former world No. 1 and six-time Grand Slam tournament champion Lindsay Davenport. Both Vandierendonck and Davenport have been elected in the Recent Player Category.
Additionally, three individuals have been elected in recognition of their tremendous dedication toward the growth and development of the sport - legendary tennis coach Nick Bollettieri, who has guided 10 players to world No. 1 status; Jane Brown Grimes, who has held executive leadership roles with the WTA, USTA, and the International Tennis Hall of Fame; and British tennis broadcaster and author John Barrett.
The 2014 enshrinees were announced as part of World Tennis Day. Complementing today’s announcement, the newly elected enshrinees are participating in the tennis festivities taking place around the world. Barrett and Vandierendonck will participate in the World Tennis Day Showdown at Earls Court in London, where tennis legends Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Ivan Lendl, and Pat Cash will be playing in an exhibition match.
Vandierendonck, 49, was one of the early stars of wheelchair tennis. She was the first ITF Wheelchair Tennis Women’s World Champion in 1991 and went on to win become World Champion again in 1996 and 1997. She was the world No. 1 women’s player for a total of 136 weeks in singles and 107 weeks in doubles.
Vandierendonck was a talented national tennis player before being injured in a car accident in 1983. She heard about wheelchair tennis from an uncle who had seen it being played on television and quickly picked up the sport before becoming the first in a long line of top-ranked Dutch women’s wheelchair tennis players. She has also taken an active role in helping to grow the sport.
Between 1985 and 1993 Vandierendonck won seven women's singles titles at the US Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships, one of the sport’s original Super Series tournaments. She also captured two doubles titles at the event.
Vandierendonck won five Paralympic medals in total. She won the women's singles gold medal at the 1998 Seoul Games, when wheelchair tennis was a demonstration sport, and went on to win two women's doubles gold medals in Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996. She also won the women's singles silver medal in 1992, when wheelchair tennis was awarded full medal status for the first time, and clinched the women's singles bronze medal in 1996.
“It is a tremendous honour to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, especially when I realised I was only the third wheelchair tennis player behind Brad Parks and Randy Snow, such legends to everyone in wheelchair tennis,” said Vandierendonck.
“But it was also very special when I looked through the records to find that I am also the first Dutch tennis player to be inducted to the Hall of Fame, so it really is a dream. When I started playing wheelchair tennis there were no players in the Netherlands, so maybe I have helped with all the Dutch success since then.“
Celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2014, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history of tennis and honouring its greatest champions and leaders. The Hall of Fame offers an extensive museum that chronicles the history of the sport and honours the game's greatest legends. Over the past 60 years, the honour of enshrinement in the International Tennis Hall of Fame has been presented to just 235 people representing 20 countries.
“I extend my congratulations to Chantal Vandierendonck, who is the first female wheelchair tennis player to be enshrined. A five-time Paralympic medallist, she was both a top competitor and a trailblazer in wheelchair tennis, and we are delighted to recognize her accomplishments and contributions,” said International Tennis Hall of Fame President Stan Smith. Who is also chairman of the Enshrinee Nominating Committee.
Vandierendonck is to become the third wheelchair tennis player to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Brad Parks, the Californian credited with founding wheelchair tennis in 1976, was inducted as a member of the Class of 2010, while Parks’s fellow American Randy Snow, the first ITF Wheelchair Tennis Men’s World Champion in 1991, was inducted as a member of the Class of 2012.
The Class of 2014 Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony will be held on Saturday, July 12 2014.
Individuals are eligible for Hall of Fame enshrinement in three categories - Recent Player, Master Player, and Contributor. The International Media Panel, which is comprised of tennis journalists and authors, votes on the Recent Player Category.