PARIS, May 5, 2019 (ITF Press Release)
The 2018 ITF World Champions were honoured on Tuesday evening at the ITF World Champions Dinner at the Pavillon Gabriel in Paris. ITF President David Haggerty presented the trophies to the Champions, in recognition of their outstanding performances in 2018, at the dinner compered by Annabel Croft.
Gabriela Sabatini was presented with the ITF’s highest accolade, the Philippe Chatrier Award, for her outstanding contribution to tennis both on and off the court. Accepting her award, Sabatini said:
“Thank you very much to the ITF for the 2019 Philippe Chatrier Award. I feel very honoured to receive it. Being here at Roland Garros is very special to me. It was here where I made my first big achievement; winning aged 14 years old the junior tournament. This title was important both in my tennis career and in my life. At that moment I was too little to realise what was happening. I was just happy knowing that I was going to play tennis and I ended up at this junior tournament, winning Roland Garros and becoming the No. 1 in the world in juniors. I remember immediately after that I went back to my home country Argentina with my father, and when we arrived at the airport I saw a lot of people waiting outside. I asked my father ‘why are there so many people?’, and it turned out that those people were waiting for me.
That day I felt that what I wanted to do was to play tennis. During my career I went through difficult moments: travelling by myself around the world, coping with different pressures and missing my country and friends. I was living a different life than any other girl would have at that age. But in the end all that effort was worth it. Tennis gave me wings; it has strengthened me physically and mentally. I learned to work hard – very hard for what I wanted – with passion, love and discipline. I had the opportunity to travel around the world to see new cultures, new people and make friends from all over. It gave me the temperament to confront tough moments. I learned from winning, but more from losing. I will always be grateful to tennis. More than 20 years have gone by since my retirement and the mark that tennis has left on me will be forever. Tennis and sport in general teaches values; it brings us together through sharing the same passion and gives us the opportunity to grow, to challenge ourselves and become better, not only as an athlete, but more importantly as a person.”
2018 ITF World Champions:
Men’s Singles Novak Djokovic (SRB):
“I would like to thank the ITF for this wonderful award – the ITF World Champion for 2018. It has been an amazing comeback season for me. It started with elbow surgery and it took several months for me to recover, get back on the right track and find the game that would allow me – later on in the year – to have arguably the best six months that I’ve had in my career, crowning it with three Grand Slam titles. Hopefully I can keep that streak going here in Paris.”
Women’s Singles Simona Halep (ROU):
“All my hard work has paid off and I’m so happy to be here tonight. Even though I play tomorrow, I couldn’t say no to this. I am so grateful for this trophy. It is very important for me and it will be with my top trophies; Grand Slam, No. 1 and this one.”
Men’s Doubles Mike Bryan (USA) and Jack Sock (USA):
Bryan: “To win this award again feels really good. It is the pinnacle in the sport of doubles, to finish the year on a high and win a couple of Slams and then be honoured as ITF World Champion. It means the world to me to have done it at the age of 41. To be on that stage again with all of those great champions – the who’s who of the tennis world – is a special night and an honour to be up there.”
Women’s Doubles Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) and Katerina Siniakova (CZE):
Siniakova: “It was an amazing year, I cannot describe it. It was just amazing that we did so well in the juniors together and now in the pros. I have enjoyed it so much with hopefully many more titles to come.”
Junior Boys Tseng Chun Hsin (TPE):
“I am sorry I cannot be there with you tonight. Unfortunately, two big moments in my life have come along at the same time. I have to attend a graduation ceremony to graduate from high school. I would like to thank the ITF for giving me this award, I am honoured to join a list of winners which includes so many legends of the sport.”
Junior Girls Clara Burel (FRA):
“2018 was a very successful year for me. I came close often, but I was very glad to win the ITF Junior Masters and I am very pleased to be awarded with this trophy now.”
Men’s Wheelchair Shingo Kunieda (JPN):
“I am very honoured to be ITF World Champion again. I suffered with an elbow injury but I am very proud about being able to come back here and I should appreciate my achievement.
The standout moment for me in 2018 was the Australian Open. It was the most memorable moment of my career due to the injury which I had, and I was really happy.
We have Paralympics 2020 next year in my home country, and that is my biggest goal but for the time being I am focused on Roland Garros and I want to remain world No. 1.”
Women’s Wheelchair Diede de Groot (NED):
“There were so many highlights in 2018. I think for me, at the beginning of the year, I won the Australian Open and that was my second Grand Slam title, but I really had to fight for it and that meant a lot to me. Becoming World No. 1 for the first and defending my Wimbledon title – it’s been a crazy year. I am very proud to receive this award. I’m very proud of what we’ve done and proud of the work that I’ve put into it.”
Quad Wheelchair Dylan Alcott (AUS):
“I love my life at the minute. I love tennis and everything that wheelchair tennis has done for me – it really changed my life. I used to really struggle with my disability when I was a young kid but as soon as I played wheelchair tennis it actually changed my life.
“My dream is to win Grand Slams, to win all four Grand Slams. One of my heroes Rod Laver is here – he has become a great friend – and if I could become even one-tenth of the legend he is, it would mean a lot to me.”