Ivan Lendl, a Grand Slam champion, former Davis Cup hero and busy tennis parent, will now be a Hall of Famer, too.
Lendl and Mervyn Rose, an Australian star from the 1950s, will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on July 14. Their elections were announced Tuesday.
"It's the ultimate honor in the game," said Lendl, who won eight major titles and was ranked No. 1 for 157 consecutive weeks in the 1980s. "The ceremony in July will be a great closure to my career and a part of my life which is over now."
Still Bothered by Back Pain
Lendl, 40, has kept a low profile since retiring in 1994. Bothered by a bad back, he restricts his tennis to practice with his children. Four of his five kids, all 10 and younger, play the New England tournament circuit.
"They're still very young, so I don't have to do much moving," he said. "I don't play because No. 1, my back hurts, and No. 2, I can't hit the ball the way I would like. It's too frustrating, and I feel there's no need to put myself through it."
Lendl, who was born in Czechoslovakia and became a U.S. citizen in 1992, won 94 singles titles and spent 270 weeks at No. 1. He reached eight consecutive U.S. Open finals, winning in 1985-86-87. He won the French Open three times and the Australian Open twice.
Lendl had a 10-0 record in Davis Cup matches, including doubles, and led Czechoslovakia to its only title in 1980.
"Every kid when they're starting, they have their dreams," he said. "It was a dream of mine as a kid to be the best player in Czechoslovakia and the best in the world. I was fortunate enough that my dream came true."
Never Won Wimbledon
In rivalries with Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe, Lendl more than held his own, but he never won Wimbledon. He was runner-up twice and lost in the semifinals five times in his sport's biggest event.
"Obviously I would have liked to have won Wimbledon," he said. "There's no secret about it. …
"I certainly did not enjoy losing, no matter where or when. There were matches that were absolutely meaningless, exhibitions I lost, and I had a hard time resting the night after that. It meant somebody played or prepared better than I did."
Now living in Goshen, Conn., Lendl devotes his time to family and golf, which doesn't bother his back. He enjoys watching an occasional tennis match on TV and was impressed by the quality of play in Andre Agassi's semifinal victory over Pat Rafter at the Australian Open last month.
Game Has Changed
The skill of the players on the men's tour has changed a lot in the past few years, Lendl said.
"The power of the game, the strength, the talent, the athleticism they have has improved. They have more shots and are not afraid to go for their shots. The progress of the game is going in huge leaps. They're better athletes with better training and better coaching. I'm impressed with how great they are."
Rose was a member of Australia's 1951 and '52 Davis Cup champions and won the 1954 Australian and 1958 French titles. He also won four doubles Grand Slam title.
Both inductees said they hope to attend the enshrinement ceremony at the Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.