Tennis players name sporting heroes

Tennis players name sporting heroes

London, July 04, 2012: The International Tennis Federation today announced the publication of its official Olympic Book Aspire, Inspire: Celebrating Tennis at the Olympics 2012. Thirty-six of the world’s leading tennis players took part in the ITF project to help promote the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Tennis Events.

This year’s 140-page publication features a series of specially commissioned photographs of the game’s top names posing with pictures of themselves as a child and talking about their sporting heroes. The book looks at which athletes inspired them when they were younger and even includes good luck messages from Olympic legends such as Usain Bolt, Sergey Bubka and Cathy Freeman.

Among the stars represented in the book are Beijing bronze medallist Novak Djokovic, who nominated Italian skier Alberto Tomba as his hero; Britain’s Andy Murray, who picked US track and field star Michael Johnson; Olympic champion Rafael Nadal, who talks about his memories of the Barcelona 1992 Olympics; Victoria Azarenka, who selected pole vaulter Bubka; and wheelchair tennis legend Esther Vergeer, who talks about Dutch swimmer Pieter van den Hoogenband.

Several players have nominated other tennis stars as their heroes, including Olympic doubles champion Roger Federer, who chose the 1992 Barcelona champion Marc Rosset as his hero, while Federer himself was selected by Japan’s Kei Nishikori; and Beijing bronze medallist Vera Zvonereva, who picked 2000 Sydney champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

Newcomers to the Olympic Tennis Event such as Kim Clijsters, Juan Martin del Potro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also share their childhood memories, inspiration and ambitions for this summer’s Games.

ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “I believe this book shows the impact the Olympics has had on the lives of the current generation of tennis players, and how proud they are to represent their countries in the Olympic and Paralympic Tennis Events. The book also highlights the mutual respect between tennis players and athletes from other sports, with the Games providing a unique opportunity for all athletes to come together.”

Aspire, Inspire follows in the footsteps of the highly successful ITF publication Journey to Beijing that was produced for the last Olympic Games in China. The 2012 Olympic Tennis Event will be held at the All England Club, Wimbledon from 28 July until 5 August, while the 2012 Paralympic Tennis Event will be held at Eton Manor on 1-8 September.

A list of the sporting heroes chosen by each tennis player is overleaf.

Tennis players and their sporting heroes

Men

Tomas Berdych Czech men’s ice hockey team (ice hockey)

Bob and Mike Bryan The Dream Team (1992 US men’s basketball team)

Marin Cilic Goran Ivanisevic (tennis)

Juan Martin del Potro Javier Sotomayor (high jump)

Novak Djokovic Alberto Tomba (skiing)

Roger Federer Marc Rosset (tennis)

David Ferrer Jordi Arrese (tennis)

Mardy Fish Dan O’Brien and Dave Johnson (decathlon)

Jurgen Melzer Carl Lewis (athletics)

Max Mirnyi Vladimir Salnikov (swimming)

Juan Monaco Manu Ginobili (basketball)

Gael Monfils Michael Johnson (athletics)

Andy Murray Michael Johnson (athletics)

Rafael Nadal Spanish Olympic Team at 1992 Barcelona

Kei Nishikori Roger Federer (tennis)

Milos Raonic Pete Sampras (tennis)

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Michael Johnson (athletics)

Stanislas Wawrinka Kobe Bryant (basketball)

Women

Victoria Azarenka Sergey Bubka (pole vault)

Dominika Cibulkova Slovak men’s ice hockey team (ice hockey)

Kim Clijsters Tia Hellebaut (high jump)

Gisela Dulko Argentine women’s hockey team (hockey)

Petra Kvitova Michael Phelps (swimming)

Bethanie Mattek-Sands Shannon Miller (gymnastics)

Shahar Peer Gal Fridman (windsurfing)

Andrea Petkovic Bode Miller (skiing)

Agnieszka Radwanska Michael Phelps (swimming)

Francesca Schiavone Usain Bolt (athletics)

Peng Shuai Li Ning (gymnastics)

Samantha Stosur Cathy Freeman (athletics)

Caroline Wozniacki Michael Phelps (swimming)

Vera Zvonareva Yevgeny Kafelnikov (tennis)

Paralympians

Shingo Kunieda Ryoko Tani (judo)

Maikel Scheffers Maarten van der Weijden (swimming)

Esther Vergeer Pieter van den Hoogenband (swimming). —- ITF

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