Andy Roddick, Kim Clijsters among 2017 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductees
Looking around the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Andy Roddick thought about all the things he is not.
Not as good as the historic greats, especially Americans who preceded him into the Newport shrine, such as John McEnroe, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. Not as good as the modern Big Four -- Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray -- who stood in the way of his winning more than one Grand Slam.
"I'm not the best of all time. I'm not going to win Wimbledon. I'm not the best of my generation. I'm not the most well-behaved. I'm not the most polished," Roddick said in a speech Saturday that was sometimes funny and sometimes poignant. "I'm also never going to take this honor for granted," he said. "I may not be a lot of things, but from this day forward, I'm never going to be anything less than a Hall of Famer."
Known for his powerful serve and his often biting wit, Roddick was inducted into the Hall along with Belgian Kim Clijsters, six-time Paralympic medalist Monique Kalkman-van den Bosch and journalist and historian Steve Flink. Tennis instructor and innovator Vic Braden, who died in 2014, was inducted posthumously.
Clijsters won four Grand Slam singles titles and 31 overall, including the 2009 U.S. Open as an unranked, wild-card entry after she came out of retirement after the birth of her daughter.
Hall of Famer Chris Evert presented Flink for induction. She said she developed a friendship with Flink over his career, which started when he was a researcher for Hall of Fame tennis writer Bud Collins. He went on to write books and magazine articles and provide tennis commentary on TV and radio. Evert spoke in awe of Flink's recall for long-ago matches and how he would interrupt her at news conferences when she got details about her own record wrong.
"Steve Flink is being inducted today for a lifetime of making tennis the center of his world," she said. Kalkman-van den Bosch discussed fighting cancer at age 14 and fearing that she would never play tennis again. Her friends pushed her around on a court in her wheelchair so she could she feel like she was still involved with the sport. "I'm so fortunate to have tennis in my life," she said. "It's been magic for me." Roddick thanked his several coaches, his father and his wife, Brooklyn Decker, who sat in the stands near fellow model Chrissy Teigen and her husband, singer John Legend. He also congratulated his fellow inductees, joining those who praised Clijsters as a person. "I have a simple way of putting it," he said. "If you have a problem with Kim Clijsters, I blame you."
Roddick spoke of sneaking into the players' lounge at the U.S. Open when he was 8 years old and playing video games with Sampras, too scared to speak. Eleven years later, they were on the same Davis Cup team.