London [UK], June 25 (ANI): In recognition of his outstanding impact on the sport of tennis as a player, promoter, and humanitarian, India's Vijay Amritraj has been named the 2021 recipient of the Golden Achievement Award.
The Golden Achievement Award is presented annually by the International Tennis Hall of Fame and International Tennis Federation to a person who has made important contributions internationally to tennis in the fields of administration, promotion, or education and has devoted long and outstanding service to the sport.
The award was presented on Friday at a special celebration hosted in Amritraj's honour in London.
"I'm humbled to receive this incredible award from the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Tennis Federation for my life's journey in a sport that I've loved all my life. This honor is really something I'm receiving on behalf of every Indian who has supported me over the years. I've had the privilege of representing India on the world's stage in our sport. I hope this is inspiring for more players from India to come out and hit the international stage," Vijay Amritraj said.
Amritraj's family and friends, along with Indian tennis, business, and political leaders came out to celebrate the Golden Achievement Award.
David Haggerty, president of the International Tennis Federation commented, "Both on and off the court, Vijay Amritraj has exemplified the spirit of the Golden Achievement Award with his numerous contributions to international tennis through his promotion of tennis and education wherever he went. In collaboration with the International Hall of Fame, we celebrate Vijay's many accomplishments with the bestowing of this award."
A globally recognized and respected tennis icon as well as a national hero in his native India, Amritraj was the first Indian player to turn professional on the ATP Tour. During his extensive career as a top-20 player in the 1970s-1980s, he broke barriers and popularized tennis across more than half the world's population throughout the Asian continent.
Amritraj remains the highest-ranked ATP singles player from India in ATP history (No. 16), and he captured the most titles by an Asian singles player (15) during his career. From 1989-93, Amritraj was selected by his peers as President of the ATP Player Council and served as an ATP Board Member from 1991-97.
A stalwart member of the Indian Davis Cup team as a player and captain, Amritraj proudly represented India on the international tennis scene. He was instrumental in India's advancement to the 1974 Davis Cup final against South Africa, which the Indian team boycotted as a protest to Apartheid. Amritraj additionally played a key role in diplomacy ahead of India's World Group tie against Israel in 1987, using tennis to promote international unity.
During his career, Amritraj was instrumental in establishing the Britannia Amritraj Tennis Academy, which focuses on the youth tennis development in India. The academy has produced several successful tennis players, including doubles major champion and legend Leander Paes.
Post-retirement, Amritraj has remained committed to humanitarian efforts through his role as United Nations Messenger of Peace (2001-06) and through The Vijay Amritraj Foundation. Founded in 2006, the foundation's mission is to bring hope, help and healing to the defenseless and innocent victims of disease, tragedy and circumstance in India.
A familiar face on television to millions of Asian tennis fans, Amritraj remains active as a commentator, actor/producer, and tennis promoter. He represents India as an unofficial ambassador and statesman, frequently speaking to world leaders and governments.
The Golden Achievement Award is selected from a pool of nominations submitted by tennis federations and individuals from the around the world. The annual honoree is selected by the Golden Achievement Award Committee, which is comprised of tennis administrators. Amritraj is first recipient from India and he joins an esteemed list of tennis leaders who have received the honor, including Brian Tobin of Australia, Eiichi Kawatei of Japan, and Peachy Kellmeyer of the United States. (ANI)