TENNIS | Amritraj, Paes and Evans — ITF Hall of Fame inductees — feted at Wimbledon

Published - July 11, 2024 07:22 pm IST - LONDON

Evans, Amritraj and Paes at the felicitation event in Wimbledon on Thursday.

Evans, Amritraj and Paes at the felicitation event in Wimbledon on Thursday. | Photo Credit: N. Sudarshan

Vijay Amritraj, Leander Paes and Richard Evans, the 2024 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductees, were honoured at an event held on the sidelines of The Championships in Wimbledon, on Thursday.

Amritraj, a former top-20 player and celebrated broadcaster, and Evans, a renowned author and journalist, have been inducted in the contributor category, while Paes, an 18-time Major champion and Olympic bronze medallist, is in the player category.

Interestingly, Paes was in the first batch of trainees at the erstwhile Britannia Amritraj Tennis Academy (BAT) in Chennai and Evans is the co-author of Amritraj’s autobiography.

“What a privilege to watch these two who were naturally skillful at a difficult sport,” Evans said about Amritraj and Paes. “There was elegance, power and skill in them for such a long period of time.

“And we media guys couldn’t have found more approachable players. I am honoured to be sandwiched between these two Indians.”

Paes credited the Amritraj family for shaping his tennis career and also recollected the first time he met Evans.

“I grew up watching these guys,” Paes said, pointing to Amritraj. “I wouldn’t be what I am today without them. At that time, I was on a football scholarship at a European club. Tennis was never on my mind.

“Anand, his brother, gave me an audition. On 12th May 1986, I joined BAT. I went to church every Sunday with their parents. The history I share with them, I am greatly proud of.

“On that 12th May, Richard [Evans] was also there, writing Vijay’s autobiography. He asked me what I wanted to be and I said Olympic champion. He said I could also be a tennis Hall of Famer if I worked hard. To sit with them now is my greatest privilege,” added Paes.

Amritraj, on his part, said his whole tennis journey was surreal. “All of these were distant goals. I am amazed at my parents who actually imagined and dreamed of things we couldn’t.

“This [award] gives me a flash of my memory. From [age] 7 to 70 flashed before me. When I played, it was always an Indian on Centre Court, not me. So this is India being honoured.”

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