Jon Wertheim speaks to new Hall of Famer Li Na

Ruben Hill
January 22, 2019

"It's a pleasure to congratulate Li Na, Mary Pierce and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, and to welcome them into the International Tennis Hall of Fame", Hall of Fame President Stan Smith said, as cited in the statement.

The new inductees, which also includes former ATP World No.1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, will be celebrated on Tuesday, January 24 in a special ceremony in Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open, joined by many other Hall of Fame tennis legends who will gather to welcome them for the first time as Hall of Fame inductees.

Those on-court achievements, along with Li's engaging personality, helped spur interest in tennis at home in China.

Officially set to take place at a ceremony on July 20 in the U.S. State of Rhode Island, Li told Xinhua "it's a great honor". Kafelnikov also won the singles gold medal at the 2000 Olympic Games and was a member of the Russian team that won the Davis Cup in 2002.

She won the 2011 French Open and 2014 Australian Open, making her the first tennis player born in Asia to collect a major singles title and helping grow the sport in her native China. Her first Slam trophy came at the 2011 French Open, where she defeated four top-10 opponents along the way.

"I'm incredibly honored to become a Hall of Famer".

"I can only imagine how many people have experienced the sport of tennis that wouldn't have if it weren't for Li Na's accomplishments", Martin said. Chinese two-time Grand Slam champion Li Na (left) talks with with India's Sania Mirza taking part in 2017 WTA Wuhan Open at Zhongshan Avenue, a historical and cultural avenue in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, on Sept 25, 2017. This is not a year of eligibility for the Hall of Fames other two categories – Contributor and Wheelchair.

The ITHF nominating committee, comprised of expert tennis media, historians and industry leaders, determines a ballot of candidates annually.

Nominees needed to be named on at least 75 percent of the ballots. Kafelnikov is the second Russian to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, the first one being Marat Safin (2016).

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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