On Tuesday, Justine Henin and Marat Safin were elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
The pair made history by becoming the first tennis players from their respective countries to be elected to the Hall.
Both legendary champions were unique in their own ways.
Henin wasn’t physically imposing–she was listed at about 5’6” and 125 pounds in her playing days—but she was as consistent and dangerous as any woman on tour. The 33-year-old Belgian won 43 WTA singles titles and two more doubles titles, and captured seven majors from 2003-07.
Affectionately known as “Juju,” Henin won her first Slam at Roland Garros in 2003, and then won in Flushing Meadows later that year. She won the Australian Open in 2004 and the French Open again in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Her final major title came in New York in 2007.
The only Slam that eluded the talented right-hander was Wimbledon, where she lost in the final twice (to Venus Williams in 2001 and Amelie Mauresmo in 2006).
"Yeah, it's just fantastic," Henin said on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. "It's been a big surprise. It's an honor to be part of the game, of the history of the game. When you play, you don't really realize that, yeah, you're going to be part of the game forever. Now with this honor, probably I realize that a little bit more."
Safin, known as much for his personality and sense of humor as he was his brilliant tennis, made his mark when he defeated Pete Sampras in the 2000 U.S. Open final. It would be another five years before the 36-year-old Russian would win his second, and final, Slam. In 2005, the two-time Davis Cup champion topped home favorite Lleyton Hewitt in the Australian Open final.
If you’ve forgotten what a character Safin was, check out his interview with David Letterman after beating Sampras in Queens in 2000.