NEW YORK — Cliff Drysdale — who has been part of the ESPN team since the network’s first tennis telecast just one week after launch in 1979 — has been elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
The announcement was made this morning at a news conference at the Essex House Hotel.
“Cliff is one of the special voices in sports television and few in any sport have combined such an outstanding career in competition with leadership roles off the court and we are proud to call him our own,” said ESPN President John Skipper.
Drysdale’s TV work as a commentator followed a playing career notable both on and off the court. He was ranked as high as No. 4 in the world, was in the Top 10 six times, and won 35 singles titles. He also captured 24 doubles crowns, highlighted by the 1972 US Open men’s championship with Roger Taylor. In 1974, he led South Africa to the Davis Cup championship.
One of the first players in the game to use the two-handed backhand, Drysdale was instrumental in the founding of the Association of Tennis Professionals and served as its first president (1972-74). During that time, he led the successful 1973 Wimbledon boycott.
The 2013 Class, which includes Martina Hingis, Thelma Coyne Long, Drysdale, Charlie Pasarell and Ion Tiriac will be inducted on Saturday, July 13, at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.