NEW YORK, July 18. /TASS/. Former World’s No. 1 tennis player Marat Safin told TASS he was proud to be the first Russian ever to join the International Tennis Hall of Fame and intended to do everything in the future for the development of tennis in Russia.
The official ceremony to induct the titled Russian tennis player was held on Saturday, July 16, 2016 and following the ceremony Safin that he felt himself "part of the world’s tennis history, one of the people to leave his footprint in tennis."
The International Tennis Hall of Fame is located in the US city of Newport, Rhode Island, where it opened in 1954 and the first Hall of Fame members were inducted there in 1955.
"This was definitely a big surprise for me and I am very pleased," Safin said in an interview with TASS. "Of course this is very serious for me, very big for me and I am grateful that I was selected, moreover considering that I am the first Russian [to be inducted]. What else can be better?"
"I am pleased to represent my country and that there is a Russian in tennis as well," he said. "There are Russians in ice hockey, in football but none were in tennis, therefore I am glad for my country. I would like to thank my country for raising me."
Safin was announced as a candidate for the induction into the Hall of Fame in October 2015 together with Belgium’s Justine Henin, a former WTA (Women Tennis Association) Tour world No. 1 and seven-time major champion, and Helena Sukova from the Czech Republic, who won 14 major titles in doubles and mixed doubles.
Born in Moscow on January 27, 1980, Safin is the two-time Grand Slam Champion (2000 US Open and 2005 Australian Open) and the dual Davis Cup champion winning the trophies with the Russian national team in 2002 and 2006.
Throughout his career, the 35-year-old Russian tennis player won a total of 15 ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) in men’s singles category. He wrapped up his tennis career in 2009 and was ranked 61st best player in ATP’s world best men’s singles rankings at that time.
According to the official website of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, "Induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame is the highest honor in the sport of tennis. Induction acknowledges an individual's excellence in on court achievements and contributions to the growth of the sport.".