By HOWARD FENDRICH
AP Tennis Writer
Leander Paes, who won 18 Grand Slam titles in men’s doubles or mixed doubles, and ex-player, broadcaster and promoter Vijay Amritraj are the first Asian men elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
The Hall, which is based in Newport, Rhode Island, and has been around since 1955, announced its Class of 2024 on Wednesday. Also being inducted next year: Richard Evans, a British journalist and historian, who was selected in the Contributor Category.
Amritraj, also chosen in the Contributor Category, and Paes, who enters in the Player Category, are both from India and that country’s first members of the shrine. It is the 28th nation to be represented.
Li Na, a Chinese woman who won two Grand Slam singles titles, became the first Asian member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame when she was inducted in 2019.
Next year’s induction ceremony will be held in Newport on July 20.
The selection of Paes ended a two-year drought in which no one nominated in the Player Category was picked. The Class of 2022 marked the first time in history no one on the ballot was selected, and it happened again for the Class of 2023.
Candidates need to be chosen on 75% of ballots; voters include media, historians, Hall of Fame members, industry experts and fans.
“It has been my life’s honor to play for my country for over three decades in a sport that has given and taught me everything. … Induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame belongs not just to me, but to our billion- plus Indians,” Paes said. “Receiving this honor culminates a professional journey of a lifetime, standing on the shoulders of greats and sets the tone for other youngsters in Asia and around the world.”
He won eight major championships in doubles and 10 in mixed and is one of three men in tennis history with a career Grand Slam in both. He and one of his former doubles partners, Martina Navratilova, share the record for most mixed doubles trophies in Grand Slam competition.
Paes collected a total of 55 doubles titles on the men’s tour and was No. 1 in the ATP doubles rankings for 37 weeks.
His 45 Davis Cup doubles match victories for India are a record, and he participated in seven Summer Olympics—the most for a tennis player—winning a bronze medal in singles at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Amritraj was a professional player in the 1970s and 1980s who helped India reach the Davis Cup Finals in 1974 and 1987. In 1974, the team boycotted the last round against South Africa to protest apartheid. After his playing career, Amritraj became a tennis broadcaster and administrator, along with promoting humanitarian causes.
Evans has reported on tennis since 1960, covering more than 200 Grand Slam tournaments and other events, and authored more than 20 books. He was one of the founding members of the International Tennis Writers’ Association and was its president from 2001-04.