Chang, champ of French Open at age 17, inducted into Hall

Updated: July 13, 2008, 3:24 AM ET
Associated Press

NEWPORT, R.I. -- Michael Chang finds it appropriate he's receiving his sport's highest honor as China awaits the Olympics.

Michael Chang
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaAt 17, Michael Chang became the youngest man to win a major when he earned the French Open title.
Chang was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on Saturday and reflected on his experiences as a Chinese-American athlete. He won the 1989 French Open at age 17 -- the youngest man to win a major -- as the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing were escalating into bloodshed.

"For me, at the French Open, if I wasn't playing my match I was glued to CNN watching the events unfold," Chang said during a news conference before his induction. "The crackdown actually happened that Sunday of the French Open."

Inducted posthumously were contributors Mark McCormack and Eugene Scott. Scott, the founder, editor and publisher during his 30 years at Tennis Week, was presented by John McEnroe. Monica Seles presented McCormack, the founder of International Management Group.

Unlike his days on the court, the 36-year-old Chang had the spotlight all to himself Saturday, not having to share the moment with the likes of Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Ivan Lendl and Boris Becker.

"I think any generation that follows our generation -- its tough to compete," he said. "As an athlete, I used my speed, agility and quickness to go out and play against the big guys."

Chang Enters Hall

Michael Chang shocked the French Open field by winning in 1989 at the age of 17. He reached No. 2 in the rankings on Sept. 9 1996.

Best Finishes at Grand Slams
Event Finish Year
Australian Open Finalist 1996
French Open Won 1989
Wimbledon Quarterfinals 1994
U.S. Open Finalist 1996
Chang finished with 34 titles. He was a finalist at the 1995 French Open, 1996 U.S. Open and 1996 Australian Open. He became the first American to win the French since Tony Trabert in 1955.

"For me, I think the Lord wanted me to win to put a smile on Chinese people's faces," he said.

Now, China hosts the Olympics next month.

"I think it's a very special year for Beijing," Chang said. "I'm really excited for what's going to happen for China. I was acting as an ambassador to help China get the bid."

Seles recalled how Scott helped her after she was stabbed in the back by a spectator during a 1993 match in Germany.

"When I was No. 1 in the world after I got stabbed," she said, "he was there as a friend."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press