Select 50 honored in Newport

Updated: July 10, 2004, 4:02 PM ET
Associated Press

NEWPORT, R.I. -- Fifty of the greatest players in tennis history received a royal welcome Saturday at the Hall of Fame's 50th anniversary celebration.

Under sparkling sunny skies, Prince Albert of Monaco introduced 47 Hall of Famers and the class of 2004 -- Steffi Graf, Stefan Edberg and Dorothy "Dodo' Cheney -- to a sellout crowd on the grass courts.

'What an honor to help pay tribute to legends who have inspired us all," Prince Albert said.

Graf, Edberg and Cheney will be enshrined before the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships' title match on Sunday.

Led by Guillermo Vilas walking behind the Argentinean flag, players entered the court in alphabetical order by nation. The biggest ovation of the day was for Chris Evert, owner of 18 Grand Slam titles.

"It's just wonderful because every single week of the year it's about the current players and who's playing well,' Evert said after the 50-minute ceremony. 'It's nice to pay tribute to the past.'

The players ranged in age from Gardnar Mulloy, 90, to the 35-year-old Graf. They were introduced by decade as they were seated on white chairs on center court.

'They were my idols,'' Evert said. 'There's a camaraderie amongst the Hall of Famers that doesn't exist amongst the players today. It's just big business."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press