From teen prodigy to player who looked like their best years were behind her to seasoned veteran seemingly at her peak, Mary Pierce’s path to the International Tennis Hall of Fame has been a long and winding one.
The Frenchwoman will be enshrined this weekend with fellow Australian and French Open champions Li Na and Yevgeny Kafelnikov. Here’s a look at some of her career highlights.
The First Grand Slam
In 1994, Pierce’s steady ascent in the game saw her advance to her first major final at Roland Garros. Several months later, she reached another Grand Slam championship bout, in Melbourne. This time, though, she turned the tables on her Paris conqueror, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, defeating the Spaniard in straight sets for her first Grand Slam title.
Holding citizenship in three countries—France, the United States and Canada—Pierce played under the French flag for her career. In 1997, she helped guide the nation to victory in the Fed Cup, the international team competition, for the first time. Pierce helped France emerge triumphant one more time, in 2003.
Viva La France
Every player from the U.S., Australia and Great Britain dreams of winning their respective home major and, of course, the French are no exception. In 2000, Pierce—six years after reaching the final for the first time—repeated that feat and went a step further, claiming the title over Conchita Martinez. She became the first French player to win the singles title in nearly two decades, while also adding the doubles title—her first at a major—that same tournament.
A Title Drought Ends at an Unlikely Place
After several lean seasons, Pierce was finally crowned a champion once again, winning the 2014 Ordina Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, for her 16th career title—and first since that French Open triumph. In the final, she defeated Klara Koukalova to win the grass-court event, her first on the turf, giving her titles on every surface over the course of her career.
In 2005, after spending more than half her life as a tennis professional, the 30-year-old Pierce posted one of the best seasons of her career. She reached her third career final at the French Open, her second at the WTA Finals and her first title match at the US Open. Pierce also captured the mixed doubles event at Wimbledon, and won two singles titles to finish the year ranked No. 5 in the world.
Follow Van on Twitter: @Van_Sias