US Open: Kramer, Court honoured

Jack Kramer and Margaret Smith Court were inducted into the US Open Court of Champions along with John McEnroe and Steffi Graf.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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New York:Jack Kramer and Margaret Smith Court were inducted into the US Open Court of Champions along with John McEnroe and Steffi Graf. Kramer, the US singles champion in 1946 and 1947, is arguably the most influential man in tennis history. A pioneer of pro tennis, he looked fit as ever at 83 as he assessed the state of the sport he helped develop from an era when players received no prize money and had to pay their own way to tournaments. When he played the US nationals on the grass at Forest Hills, he said, the players had to pay $2.50 a day for their hotel in Manhattan and ride the subway to tennis stadium. Changing times "Now the kids here have 280 cars ready to pick them up," said Kramer, who pushed to create the open era and served as the first director of the Association of Tournament Professionals. "Things have changed. Boy, wouldn't it be wonderful to play for all this loot!" Kramer, whose signature wooden racket was used by generations of players and made him wealthy, said he keeps up with the game on television and has been impressed by the depth of talent. "I've come to the opinion that anybody that is good enough to make the draw in both the ladies' and the men's singles, they're one hell of a great tennis player, and they're not being overpaid at all." At the ceremony in Arthur Ashe Stadium, Kramer said his grandson, Cody, once asked him, "Grandpa, are you a legend?" He didn't know how to answer that, but now Kramer said he feels he can go back to California and say, "Yes, Cody, I think I made it. I think I'm a legend." Court impressed Court, 62, also was impressed with modern players but thought she and others of her time would be able to compete with them given the same rackets. "I was probably the first woman to lift weights and do circuit training and to run the sand hills," said Court, who won 18 US titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. She won a total of 62 Grand Slam singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles. "Jack and I were saying earlier how beautiful the equipment is today. You just get such wonderful touch with it. I think if you'd like to put them out on a court with the rackets that we used, I think many of us would have fit into this time very well." McEnroe paid tribute to Kramer and Court, saying he also used Kramer's racket. The 2004 inductees joined last year's inaugural class, which included Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Rod Laver, Bill Tilden and Helen Wills. (AP)

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