World Champions Honoured in Paris
The ITF honoured its 2003 World Champions on Tuesday 1 June, at the annual ITF World Champions Dinner at the Pavillon d’Armenonville in Paris. The 2003 World Champions were presented with their statuettes by ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti in a special awards ceremony. Pictures can be found in a special Photo Gallery
here on the ITF's website.
The ITF presented its highest accolade, the Philippe Chatrier Award, to French star Yannick Noah in recognition of his wide-ranging and far-reaching contributions to tennis. Named after former longstanding ITF President Philippe Chatrier, the award is bestowed upon people or organisations who, in the opinion of the ITF Board of Directors, have made an exceptional contribution to tennis.
In 1983 Noah became the first Frenchman to win Roland Garros since 1946, defeating Mats Wilander in the final. He went on to achieve a career-high ranking of No. 3 in singles and No. 1 in doubles. A dedicated team player, Noah played for his county in 22 Davis Cup ties with a 39-22 individual win-loss record. As a captain, he led his country to its first Davis Cup title in 59 years when France defeated the United States in Lyon in 1991. Noah again captained France to Davis Cup victory in 1996, before leading France’s Fed Cup team to its first Fed Cup title in 1997.
Noah has been an ITF ambassador for Wheelchair tennis, but his contributions do not stop at tennis. His concern for others has seen him invest time and effort into creating two charities - both run by his mother Marie-Claire Noah – for the benefit of children less fortunate than himself. Les Enfants de la Terre provides a temporary home for children in need, while Fete le Mur gives free use of sports facilities to children and teenagers from under-privileged backgrounds.
Noah joins an illustrious group of Philippe Chatrier Award winners that includes Stefan Edberg, Chris Evert, Rod Laver, Nicola Pietrangeli, former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, long-term Davis Cup sponsor NEC, Jack Kramer and, last year, Billie Jean King.
The ITF named Andy Roddick (USA) and Justine Henin-Hardenne (BEL) as singles World Champions for 2003. Both athletes enjoyed outstanding seasons, with Roddick winning his first Grand Slam title at the US Open and reaching the semifinals at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Henin-Hardenne won two Grand Slam titles, at Roland Garros and the US Open, and was a semifinalist at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
Neither Roddick nor Henin-Hardenne were able to be at the dinner, but both sent audio messages of thanks for their awards and expressed their disappointment at being able to attend.
In the other award categories, the ITF has honoured the following players for their exceptional accomplishments last year: Men’s Doubles: Bob & Mike Bryan (USA); Women’s Doubles: Virginia Ruano Pascual (ESP) & Paola Suarez (ARG); Boys’ Singles: Marcos Baghdatis (CYP); Girls’ Singles: Kirsten Flipkens (BEL); Boys’ Doubles: Scott Oudsema (USA); Girls’ Doubles: Andrea Hlavackova (CZE); Men’s Wheelchair: David Hall (AUS); and Women’s Wheelchair: Esther Vergeer (NED).
ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “I want to extend my congratulations to all of the ITF World Champions. Their performances last year delighted all of us who love the sport of tennis and the ITF is proud to honour this outstanding group of players.”
In addition to celebrating the achievements of the ITF World Champions of 2003, the dinner also commemorated ITF Junior Tennis. A new book, 18 & Under, has been produced to celebrate over 25 years of the ITF Junior Circuit, and Martina Hingis was presented at the dinner with one of the first copies.
Other stars to attend included Swedish Davis Cup captain Mats Wilander, French Davis Cup and Fed Cup Captain Guy Forget, Mary Pierce, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Henri Leconte and Arnaud Boetsch.