London, July 18 (IANS) Former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic became the first Croatian to earn an induction in the tennis Hall of Fame during virtual ceremony on Saturday evening.
The former world No. 2, who is among the current world No. 1 Novak Djokovic’s coaching staff, had won the Wimbledon singles title in 2001, besides lifting 22 tour-level trophies.
“We are a small country with a huge heart. We never stop believing. I had a lot of ups and downs, and I never stopped believing,” Ivanisevic told atptennis.com after being inducted.
Ivanisevic, despite being a hugely talented player, was let down by his temperament on several occasions before he won at The All England Club at the fag end of his career.
“For the first time in my life, I can say I am proud of myself. It was not easy to be my fan. It was frustrating, it was sad, probably a lot of people got divorced because of me. But one thing is for sure: it was entertaining to be my fan.”
Ivanisevic remains the only wild card to win the Wimbledon.
“I would like to thank the Wimbledon committee for giving me a wild card. I don’t know if they did a good job or not, or if they now regret it. But thank you guys, because if you didn’t give me a wild card, I wouldn’t be standing here. I think it was a good decision.”
Former world No. 1 John McEnroe of the United States, who inspired Ivanisevic to start tennis, said, “I love Goran Ivanisevic, and I am absolutely thrilled to induct someone into the Hall of Fame who is arguably crazier on the court than I was,” McEnroe said.
“But here’s the truth: He’s been great for the sport of tennis, certainly has personality. Yes he’s a character, yes he had serious game. He’s lefty, I like that. He’s super-talented.
“He always had me on the edge of my seat because I never knew what was going to happen next, and I’m not sure he did either. But his unpredictability was also partly why we loved him.”
The others who were inducted on Saturday included 1994 Wimbledon singles champion Conchita Martinez of Spain and South African-born American tennis administrator Dennis Van Der Meer, who passed away in 2019.