(Reuters) - Three-time Grand Slam champion and former world number one Lindsay Davenport was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on Saturday, saying she fell in love with the sport the first time she picked up a racquet.
“I was five years old when I first hit a tennis ball and a racquet was put in my hand,” the American said at her enshrinement along with legendary tennis coach Nick Bollettieri, five time Paralympic medallist Chantal Vandierendonck, tennis executive Jane Brown Grimes and British broadcaster John Barrett in ceremonies at Newport, Rhode Island.
“It was the third sport that my parents tried with me to get me out of the house clearly at a young age after school. I never wanted to learn another sport and I still don‘t.
“Hitting the ball and making contact was always something that came very natural to me. Everything else about the game took work and was a struggle. But that was the reason why I fell in love with it.”
Davenport, now 38, said it took her 20 years of practice and competition to reach her peak.
The Californian was rewarded with Grand Slam victories at the 1998 U.S. Open, 1999 Wimbledon and 2000 Australian Open. She also won an Olympic gold medal in 1996 during a career stretching from 1991 through 2011. She was ranked number one in the world for 98 weeks.
Second-seed Ivo Karlovic and third-seed Lleyton Hewitt, meanwhile, will meet in Sunday’s final after semi-final victories on Saturday.
Tall Croatian Karlovic has bounced back in emphatic fashion from his first round loss at Wimbledon.
The 35-year-old’s latest victim was Australian Samuel Groth. Karlovic broke once in each set for a 6-4 6-4 victory.
Australian Hewitt, at home on the grass surface, took barely an hour to dust off American Jack Sock 6-1 6-2.
Hewitt is also seeking redemption after losing last year’s final. As with Karlovic, he had an early recent exit from Wimbledon, where he lost in five sets in the second round.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, Editing by Gene Cherry