Re: Yeltsin's impact on tennis
Former Russian President, Tennis Supporter Boris Yeltsin Is Dead At 76
Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, an avid tennis player and supporter of the sport who was the first president of the Russian Tennis Federation and a long-time fixture at Russian Davis Cup and and Fed Cup ties, has died, the Kremlin announced today. He was 76.
Yeltsin broke political barriers and leaped over tennis barricades during an adventurous public life.
Though the Kremlin has not released an official cause of death, the Associated Press, citing The Interfax news agency, reports Yeltsin died of heart failure.
A pivotal figure in Russia's evolution, Yeltsin is credited with presiding over the peaceful dissolution of the former Soviet state in 1991 and of encouraging the nation to embrace many democratic principles.
Yeltsin was a passionate tennis player and devoted fan of the sport, who played a role in fostering the growth of the game in his country. Yeltsin was a close friend of Russian Davis Cup and Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpischev, who worked at the Kremlin during Yeltsin's administration. Yeltsin was inducted into the Russian Tennis Hall of Fame in 2003— a year after Mikhail Sumarokov-Elston, 1973 Wimbledon finalist Alex Metreveli, Tarpischev and Yevgeny Kafelnikov.
In February of 2006, Marat Safin, former Davis Cup teammate Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Tarpischev joined distinguished guests, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Vladimir Putin in attending former Yeltsin's black-tie birthday celebration.
Yeltsin was in the crowd cheering on Safin and teammates Mikhail Youzhny and Kafelnikov when they led Russia to its first Davis Cup championship in history with a 3-2 triumph over host France in the 2002 final that saw former Davis Cup ball boy Youzhny fight back from a two-set deficit to defeat Paul-Henri Mathieu in the decisive fifth match.
Yeltsin was a friend and fan of fellow Muscovites Anastasia Myskina and Elena Dementieva. He was in the crowd for the 2000 Kremlin Cup final when Martina Hingis beat Anna Kournikova and again in 2001 when Jelena Dokic defeated Dementieva. And when Myskina made history as the first Russian woman to win the Kremlin Cup title with a 6-2, 6-4, conquest of Amélie Mauresmo in the 2003 final, an ecstatic Yeltsin leaped over the barrier separating spectators from players, rushed out onto the court and embraced Myskina with the exuberance of a proud parent. Yeltsin also traveled to Paris in June of 2004 and was on hand to see Myskina become the Russian woman to win a Grand Slam championship when the sixth-seeded Myskina crushed Dementieva, 6-1, 6-2, in the French Open final.
The former President was a proud supporter of Russia's Fed Cup team, which capture the country's first Fed Cup championship in Moscow in November of 2004.
Tennis Week senior correspondent Richard Evans was in Moscow last September to cover Russia's Davis Cup semifinal victory over the United States and filed this report on Russian Tennis Racquet Revolution: When The Soviet Union Imploded, Russian Tennis Exploded (note the smiling Yeltsin standing next to Safin in the photo).