Kuerten elected to Hall of Fame

Three-time French Open champion and former world No. 1 Gustavo Kuerten has been elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

The popular clay-court-loving Brazilian star, better known as "Guga," ascended to the top of the men's rankings in December of 2000 and tallied his French Open titles in 1997, 2000 and 2001. He was the first-ever South American to become a year-end No. 1.

"During my career in tennis I was fortunate to have many victories, but the Hall of Fame induction is a special one," said Kuerten, from the announcement in Sao Paulo. "I was inspired by lots of great tennis players, like Maria Esther Bueno and Thomas Koch, two of the biggest Brazilian tennis players, and I have also always greatly admired Hall of Famers, including Borg, McEnroe, Sampras, and Agassi. To be honored in the same category as those great players is amazing.

"Probably one of my greatest accomplishments was being able to get Brazilians excited about tennis, and to elevate attention for Brazil as a tennis nation. I'm so happy to be able to celebrate this honor here in Brazil with the people who supported my career, and I look forward to the induction celebration in the United States in July."

Kuerten was a relative unknown, ranked 66th in the world at the time, when he ran the table at Roland Garros as a 20-year-old in '97. He became the second- lowest-ranked man to capture a major title in the process.

Guga captured 20 career singles titles and was a runner-up on nine occasions. In addition to his French Open championships, he reached the quarterfinals at the French Open in 1999 and 2004, and was a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon in 1999, at the U.S. Open in 1999 and 2001, and at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

The now 35-year-old also received the ATP's Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award in 2003. Inspired by his late brother, Guilherme, who had cerebral palsy, Kuerten opened the Institute Guga Kuerten in 2000 to help disabled people. The institute is located in Kuerten's hometown of Florianopolis.

Others previously announced for induction this year were 1975 U.S. Open champ Manuel Orantes, administrator and promoter Mike Davies, and the late wheelchair star Randy Snow.

The Class of 2012 will be inducted in Newport on July 14.