Three Tennis Greats to be Inducted: Kafelnikov, Na and Pierce
Once again, the Tennis world will be focused on the induction of three great tennis players in our sport. Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Li Na and Mary Pierce will all be inducted this weekend at Newport Rhode Island.
All three were outstanding players, winning multiple Grand Slams. Here’s the interesting fact about all three inductees. All three won both the Australian and French Opens. What are the chances?
Regardless, let’s talk about what each contributed to the sport. Kafelnikov brought an effortless down the line backhand which seemed absolutely unstoppable in the 90s. My best memory of him was his rivalry with Andre Agassi, especially in 1999 where Kafelnikov and Agassi fought for the number one spot throughout the year, with Agassi claiming the year end number one spot. Kafelnikov retired at age 30 and gave it a shot at the European pro golf circuit without making any cuts. Additionally, he tried his hand at poker for a few years, with relative success.
Li Na was the first Chinese player to truly break out, having an incredible run from 2011 to 2014 where she finished in the top 10 four years in a row and claimed the Australian and French Open, in addition to participating in two additional Australian Open finals. Unfortunately, she suffered a career ending knee injury.
Finally, there’s Mary Pierce. She took the power game to a new level with her clean hard-hitting strokes. She hit hard from both wings and you can argue that she opened the door to hard hitters in the women’s game. Her 2000 French Open win has been one of the most memorable Grand Slam runs in recent memory. Unfortunately, her career was ended just like Li Na’s, with a knee injury.
So, there you have it! These former tennis pros will be inducted at the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island this Saturday. As some of you may know, the induction coincides with an ATP 250 tournament by the same name and played on the grounds – and in grass! How’s that for tradition?