"This is a dream come true," is the sentence with which Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanisevic concluded his speech at a ceremony in Newport, where the 49-year-old from Split became the first Croat to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Goran Ivanišević was introduced into the company of tennis immortals by his childhood idol John McEnroe, and the medal for member of the International Hall of Fame was hung around his neck by the president of this organization Stan Smith, a member himself.
“I love Goran Ivanišević and I am extremely excited to be able to introduce someone to the Hall of Fame who can be said to have been crazier on the field than I was. I played against Goran a lot of times, I watched and commented on his matches a lot of times and I have to say he always kept me on the edge of my chair because I never knew what would happen next, and I’m not sure he knew either. His unpredictability is one of the reasons why we loved him and why it was so hard to play against him. What he did on the field, Goran did in his own way and it would certainly be good to have such players in tournaments ... I am proud to present my friend and new member of the International Hall of Fame,” said John McEnroe, introducing Goran to the Hall of Fame.
“I don't think I'm crazier than you, but I'm very close. I love you, I love your tennis, you are the reason why I started playing tennis and - yes, I beat you many times,” sad Ivanišević making everyone present laugh at the foggy Newport dinner.
A special space in gratitude was given to those who sacrificed the most for the career of the new resident of the Hall of Fame - father Srđan and mother Gorana.
“The two most important people in my career - mom and dad. Two people who sacrificed their health, their careers, and their time and gave me unconditional love to succeed. Mom and Dad, there are no words to express my thanks, nor can I do anything to thank you for all you have done for me. If I had to go through this trip again, I would choose you for mom and dad again and we would go together again. I love you and thank you for everything,” said Ivanišević.
Goran also thanked his children: Oliver, who is "too young to know who his father is, but loves him", and Emanuel and Amber, who are big enough and "feel proud of what their father has achieved".
Then Goran's wife Nives had her turn.
“When I started to be good, she was still a girl. She didn’t know about me, nor did she know anything about tennis. Twenty-something years later she stands here extremely proud and beautiful. Thank you for your support and love,” said Ivanišević.
Goran did not forget the people who are "responsible" for his historical success, which made him a tennis legend.
“I thank the Wimbledon committee for awarding me an invitation. I don’t know if they did a good job and if they regret it, but thank you guys - if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be standing here now. It was a good decision.”
In the end, Goran expressed thanks to "one city and one country".
“My hometown of Split - a city that has produced so many wonderful people and wonderful athletes. The city that gave me the most beautiful and safest childhood, where I could become a tennis player as I am today and as I was. Everything I built through my career I brought from that city and became the man I am today. To my country. You know, we are a small country with a big heart. We never stop believing. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but I’ve never stopped believing. For the first time in my life I can say that I am proud of myself,” said Ivanišević.
“This is the end. This is a dream come true,” said the hall of Fame’s newest member.
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