Nick Bollettieri, whose Bradenton academy has launched the careers of numerous No. 1 players, was named Monday to the International Tennis Hall of fame.
Bollettieri, 82, was joined in the enshrinement class by three-time grand slam champion Lindsay Davenport, five-time Paralympic medalist Chantal Vandierendonck, executive Jane Brown Grimes and broadcaster John Barrett.
Bollettieri, 82, founded the academy that carried his name in 1978. It was the first full-time tennis boarding school. He has coached 10 players to the No. 1 ranking, including Dade City’s Jim Courier, Andre Agassi, Monica Seles and Boris Becker.
At a news conference in New York, Bollettieri acknowledged this was one of the few times in his life he felt at a loss for words.
“To be standing aside some of the players I’ve helped achieve what they are,” he said, “is a dream that even Nick Bollettieri can’t comprehend.”
Davenport won the 1998 U.S. Open, 1999 Wimbledon, 2000 Australian Open and 1996 Olympic gold medal to go with three major doubles titles. She held the world’s No. 1 ranking for 98 weeks in her career.
“Growing up playing tennis, getting to the Hall of Fame was never even in my dreams,” she said on a conference call Monday after the class of 2014 was announced. “It seemed a little bit too big for me.”
It never occurred to her until after she won her second major title in 1999 and Bud Collins, a Hall of Famer himself, mentioned the possibility.
The 37-year-old Davenport is thrilled that at the enshrinement ceremony in Newport, R.I., on July 12, her 6-year-old son Jagger will get to learn about the sport’s history. He plays tennis, too.
Vandierendonck was a top Dutch player before she was injured in a car crash in 1983 and went on to become a pioneer in wheelchair tennis.
Brown Grimes is a former managing director of the Women’s Professional Tennis Council, now known as the WTA Tour Board; president of the U.S. Tennis Association; and president of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Barrett was the “Voice of Wimbledon” on the BBC from 1971 to 2006. His wife, former top-ranked player Angela Mortimer Barrett, was inducted into the Hall in 1993. Agassi and Steffi Graf are the only other married couple in the Hall.
Davenport wishes she’d done a better job during her career of following Billie Jean King’s advice to “enjoy the process.” But she’s proud that she believes she always played the sport for the right reasons.
“You’re not great at something unless you love it,” she said.