Manolo Santana, Guillermo Vilas, Francesco Ricci Bitti, Pierre Darmon and Neale Fraser. Photographer: Paul Zimmer
The legendary Argentinean player received the Davis Cup Award for Excellence today.
Presentation of the award was made on Saturday 22 November during the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final between Spain and Argentina in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Presenting this prestigious award to Vilas was ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti, joined by past award recipients Neale Fraser (2001), Pierre Darmon (2002) and Manolo Santana (2004).
"The International Tennis Hall of Fame and the ITF have the great honor of presenting Guillermo Vilas with this year’s Davis Cup Award of Excellence," said Christopher Clouser, Chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. "Guillermo is one of our great ambassadors of tennis and served Argentina in Davis Cup play for a record 14 years. He is responsible for the growth and popularity of tennis in Argentina, competing so successfully at the highest level of international competition during his career."
"Guillermo Vilas is synonymous with tennis in Argentina, particularly Davis Cup where he represented his country for 14 years," added ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti. "He was instrumental in his country’s march to the final in 1981 and I know that he is very proud that he will be in Mar del Plata to see his Argentinean team attempt to win the title for the first time."
Vilas, who was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1991, holds the Argentinean Davis Cup records for most total wins (57), most singles wins (45), most doubles wins (12), most ties played (29), most years played (14) and best doubles team (with Jose-Luis Clerc). His overall career Davis Cup win-loss record stands at 57-24 (45-10 in singles and 12-14 in doubles). A true sportsman, a fiery competitor and all-around team player for his country, Vilas played in 29 ties over 14 years (1970-1973, 1975-1984) and led his country to their first-ever appearance in a Davis Cup final (1981).
Born in Mar del Plata in 1952, the left-handed Vilas became the Latin American sensation that popularised tennis in South America. In 1977 he captured the singles titles at both Roland Garros and the US Open. He went on to win back-to-back Australian Open singles titles in 1978 and 1979. Vilas also reached the Australian singles final in 1977, and three additional French singles finals (1975, 1978, and 1982). He was ranked in the world Top 10 for nine consecutive years (1974-82), reaching the world No. 2 ranking in 1977.
A clay court specialist, Vilas was just as strong from the back court as he was at the net, with a strategic game of tactical mastery to thwart his opponents. He captured 62 career singles titles along with 14 doubles titles. His Grand Slam singles career win-loss results are noteworthy: Australian Open, 23-3; Roland Garros, 56-17; Wimbledon, 15-11; and US Open, 43-14. He is credited with being the first Argentine to capture a Grand Slam event (1977 Roland Garros) and the first Argentine to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame (1991). Vilas was also the winner of the last US Open Championship Match played at Forest Hills in 1977.
Well-deserved. Congratulations, Mr Vilas.