RIO DE JANEIRO, March 8 (Xinhua) -- Brazilian tennis legend Gustavo "Guga" Kuerten received his official induction into the Hall of Fame of tennis on Thursday.
The athlete received the prestigious honor in Sao Paulo by the current directors of the Hall of Fame, Christopher Clouser and Mark Stenning.
During his illustrious career, Kuerten won 20 international tournaments in the singles category and won an additional eight titles in the doubles category.
His most recognizable wins were in Ronald Garros, the French Open, where he won the competition three times in 1997, 2000 and 2001 as well as his Masters Cup win in 2000.
With his large amount of success at the turn of the century, Kuerten was ranked the ATP No. 1 player in the world in 2000 and held the place for 43 non-consecutive weeks. He turned pro in 1995 and was forced to retire in 2008 due to nagging injuries and the inability to fully recuperate.
During his 14 year career, Kuerten won nearly 15 million U.S. dollars in prize money.
Kuerten admitted that before he became a tennis player and even during his first years as an athlete, he was unaware of the existence of tennis Hall of Fame. However, he mentioned that his father was certain that he had the ability and talent enough to one day make his mark on the tennis world and enter the Hall.
Addressing the crowd in English, despite the large majority of native Portuguese speakers in the crowd, Kuerten gave special thanks to his father and brother, both of whom are deceased. In tears, the ex-athlete attributed his success to his father's incessant support and belief in him. Also, as March 8 marks international Woman's Day, Kuerten praised his mother for all the sacrifices and adversity that she faced in aiding her son to achieve his dreams.
Kuerten is now Brazil's second member of the Hall of Fame. The first and only other Brazilian to be inducted into the exclusive list of international athletes is Maria Esther Bueno.
Apart from Kuerten, Spain's Manuel Orantes, Wales' Mike Davies and American Randy Snow had their respective names added to the Hall of Fame.
Additionally, Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov and American Jennifer Capriati were announced as members of the 2012 class of inductees. A separate ceremony at the site of the Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on July 14 will unite the 2012 class of elite tennis players and contributors.