WASHINGTON (AFP) – Former world number one Andy Roddick compared facing Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to witnessing Spanish artist Picasso compose a masterpiece as he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
American star Roddick, 34, spent 13 weeks atop the world rankings, topping the year-end list in 2003.
He won his only Grand Slam singles title at the 2003 US Open, losing four other Slam finals to Federer. He retired after the 2012 US Open with 32 career ATP titles and a 612-213 record.
Regarding long-time rivals Federer and Nadal, Roddick remarked: “I can’t believe the level of tennis I got to see. I feel like I know what it must have been like to watch Picasso.”
Roddick also recalled how lucky he felt to see sisters Serena and Venus Williams as teens, saying: “I can’t wait to see Serena become a mother and I can’t wait to seem them both play in the Wimbledon final in 2030!”
Roddick and fellow Slam winner Kim Clijsters, as well as Dutch four-time Paralympic wheelchair tennis medalist Monique Kalkman-van den Bosch, tennis journalist and historian Steve Flink and the late Vic Braden, a groundbreaking instructor who died in 2014 at age 85, were enshrined in the Hall of Fame at Newport, Rhode Island on Saturday.
Belgium’s Clijsters, 34, won the 2005, 2009 and 2010 US Opens and the 2011 Australian Open singles crowns. She spent 20 weeks atop the rankings and had a WTA career record of 523-127, capturing 41 WTA titles before retiring in 2012.
“This is an incredible moment for me,” Clijsters said. “I’m very honoured to join all the past inductees and the Class of 2017, each of whom has left an indelible mark on our sport.”
Three of the four Grand Slam titles for Clijsters came after she had retired in 2007 and become a mother, not intending to return but shining once she did.
“Thank you tennis for making my dreams come true,” Clijsters said, calling her induction a “humbling experience”.
Kalkman-van den Bosch, 52, was diagnosed with cancer at age 14 and left paralysed below the waist. She won 1984 Paralympic gold in table tennis, then switched to wheelchair tennis, taking three more titles to become the first woman to win Paralympic gold medals in two different individual sports.
“It’s an unbelievable, incredible honour,” she said. “I’m so deeply proud and humbled to become part of this tennis family.”