Almost a decade after he retired from professional tennis, Zimbabwe tennis legend Wayne Black continues to receive international recognition for his playing days exploits. He has just been inducted into the University of Southern California (USC)’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Black (43) attended USC for tertiary education, earning All-American honours in singles and doubles (1993, 1994) before embarking on a very successful professional tennis career until his retirement from the doubles circuit in 2006.
Last week the legendary former Zimbabwe tennis star was named amongst 18 USC sporting luminaries from different sporting disciplines to have been selected to the 12th class of the prestigious university’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
“This is an iconic group of Trojans [as USC are affectionately known in US college sports] who have left their mark on USC’s athletic history,” said USC athletic director Lynn Swann in a statement on Wednesday. “They will join our first 11 classes of Hall of Famers to form a Who’s Who in USC sports.”
Black, who went on to earn over $3,3 million in prize money after turning professional will be honoured at an induction dinner on May 19 2018, at USC’s Galen Centre.
In an interview with Sports World Black expressed his delight, gratitude and pride in receiving the recognition from USC, who two years ago also inducted his brother Byron into their Hall of Fame.
“It’s fantastic and I’m very happy about it. USC is one of the best tennis universities in the US so to be inducted into their Hall of Fame is a big honour,” Black said.
“It obviously brings back a lot of good memories of my time there before I turned professional. They have invited me to go there next year to attend the induction ceremony, which I’m really looking forward to; it will be nice to see the place again.”
Following in the footsteps of his brother Byron, who also played for USC between 1989 to 1992, Wayne helped USC capture the 1993 and 1994 NCAA men’s tennis team championships, earning All-American acclaim both years. His biggest individual honour was being named the 1994 Pac-10 Conference Player of the Year.
His impressive record in college tennis would be a precursor to an equally successful pro career, especially in doubles.
With compatriot Kevin Ullyett, Black won two men’s doubles titles — the US Open in 2001 and Australian Open in 2005.
He also won two Grand Slam mixed doubles titles at the 2002 French Open and 2004 Wimbledon with sister Cara.
Of all his achievements on the professional circuit, the icing on the cake, he says, was the Zimbabwe Davis Cup’s fairytale path to the elite World Group almost 17 years ago.
Black is also an Olympian having represented Zimbabwe in singles and doubles at the 1996 Atlanta Games and 2000 Sydney Olympics and in doubles in Athens four years later.
After his retirement, Black opted to settle in Zimbabwe along with his Kazakhstan-born wife Irina Selyutina and two children, Joseph (11) and Brooke (9).
His wife briefly played on the WTA tour after partnering Cara to the Wimbledon Junior doubles title in 1997.
After briefly coming out of retirement two years ago to help Zimbabwe’s Davis Cup team, Black, who runs a lodging business in Harare, has also been passing on his knowledge to his two children at his parents’ spacious Mandara home, which has attractive grass courts.
“I’ve been busy running my business and taking some time to be with my family. My kids are 11 and nine now and starting to do a bit more competitions. I think starting from next year they will start to play in some of the local tournaments. Right now they hit the ball okay but we want to make sure they’re ready before they start competing regularly,” said Wayne.