Henin, Safin in Hall of Fame contention

Justine Henin and Marat Safin and long-time doubles standout Helena Sukova were among five nominees to the International Tennis Hall of Fame announced on Friday.

The only other nominations for the Class of 2016 were posthumous nods for Yvon Petra, a 1940s French standout, and 1930s British champion Margaret Scriven.

Belgium’s Henin, 33, won seven Grand Slam singles titles, including four French Opens, two US Opens and an Australian Open crown.

She topped the WTA Tour rankings for 117 weeks, taking year-end top honours in 2003, 2006 and 2007, and retired in 2011 with 43 career singles titles, including the 2004 Athens Olympic gold medal, and a career record of 525-115. She also helped Belgium win the 2001 Fed Cup title.

“The Hall of Famers are individuals who I have admired from the time I was a young girl, throughout my career, and to this day,” Henin said.

Russia’s Safin, 35, won the 2000 US Open, defeating Pete Sampras in the final, and the 2005 Australian Open, downing home-nation hero Lleyton Hewitt in the final.

He spent nine weeks atop the rankings and won 15 career singles crowns, compiling a 422-267 career record. He also sparked Russia to the Davis Cup crown in 2002 and 2006.

“To be part of a Hall of Fame is every athlete’s dream,” Safin said.

Czech Sukova, 50, topped the world doubles rankings for 68 weeks, winning 14 Grand Slam titles in women’s and mixed doubles.

In singles, she was ranked as high as fourth and reached four major finals, two each at the US and Australian Opens. In women’s doubles, Sukova won four Wimbledon titles, two US Open crowns and one each at the French and Australian Opens.

It was Sukova who beat Martina Navratilova in the 1984 Australian Open semi-finals to end her historic 74-match win streak. Sukova also helped the Czechs to four Fed Cup crowns and partnered with Jana Novotna to take silver medals at the 1988 Seoul and 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Petra, who died in 1984 at age 68, won the 1946 Wimbledon singles title after five years as a World War II prisoner in Germany.

Scriven, who died in 2001 at age 88, was the first left-handed major champion in history, capturing the 1933 and 1934 French singles titles.

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