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Sportsmanship Award

This year’s Sportsmanship Award goes to Greg Rusedski whose sixteen-year professional career saw him reach the topmost heights of the game in 1997. On his way to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon that year he became embroiled in a desperate five-set battle with America’s Jonathan Stark. The support of a flag-waving, patriotic crowd on Court No.1 that day contributed to a fine win and made Greg realize how much he was appreciated by the British tennis public. It also convinced him that the decision he had made two years earlier to play for Britain instead of Canada was the right one.

The story of his change of nationality is a romantic one. Born in Montreal of an English mother and a father whose background was Ukrainian, Greg had been sent from Canada to play in the junior event at Wimbledon in 1991. It was on that trip that he met Lucy Connor, a fifteen-year-old ball girl for one of his matches. It was a case of love-at-first-sight.

As the romance developed so did Greg’s tennis. In 1993 he won the first of his fifteen career titles in Newport Rhode Island. His arrival in the final of the US Open later in 1997 was fraught with difficulty. Not only did Richard Krajicek and Jonas Bjorkman pose awkward questions in their quarter-final and semi-final matches but Greg also had to deal with the explosion of emotion surrounding the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales in Paris. It was difficult to stay focused for his final against Australia’s Pat Rafter whose win in four sets prevented Greg from emulating Fred Perry, the last British winner in New York in 1936.

After that performance there was no doubt about Greg’s popularity with the British public. In December he was voted the BBC Sports Personality of 1997. This award was all the more remarkable for the fact that Tim Henman, whose great rivalry with Greg was the central theme of British tennis for a decade, was in second place. Throughout his career Greg was always proud to play alongside Henman for Great Britain in the Davis Cup and together they formed one of the best doubles pairs ever to represent us.
Greg’s win the following year over the reigning world No. 1 Pete Sampras in the final of the Paris indoor tournament was arguably the finest win at that stage by a British player since the second World War. His capture of the Grand Slam Cup in 1999, the last year of that competition was another milestone.

Even more important to Greg that year was his marriage to Lucy, which he described as “the best day of my life”.

Read more about the IC of GB Sportsmanship Award >>

Since his retirement from the main Tour in 2006 Greg has been helping the LTA to unearth new talent and has also worked as an analyst for several TV networks. On both counts he is well qualified.

All of us connected with the IC of Great Britain would like to wish Greg, Lucy and their two children, Scarlett and John, every happiness and continued success.