Martina Hingis and Jim Courier both trotted out their best French as they were inducted into the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame on Monday night.
Hingis, a winner of five Grand Slam singles titles, won consecutive singles titles in Canada in 1999 and 2000, the latter tournament in Montreal.
The 31-year-old Swiss great addressed the Uniprix Stadium crowd in French, attributing her improved skills in the language to lessons from her husband, show jumper Thibault Hutin.
“I was able to win here at least once in Montreal and always had really good results,” Hingis said. “It’s one of the nicer events on the tour you have throughout the year. It was one of my favourites.”
Courier, who won consecutive French Open singles titles in 1991 and 1992, also briefly addressed the crowd in conversational French before asking to switch to his native tongue.
A two-time singles semifinalist in Canada, Courier won the 1993 tournament’s doubles title in Montreal. He teamed up with partner Mark Knowles of the Bahamas to beat Toronto’s Glenn Michibata and American David Pate.
“I have good memories from here because I won doubles here,” said Courier, who won four Grand Slam singles titles. “It’s the most European city in North America so it’s a pleasure for me to come here and play with and against older peers.”
Hingis and Courier were honoured prior to the Legends Night matches on the eve of the women’s tournament’s main draw. The two new inductees capped the evening with a mixed doubles match against tennis legend Martina Navratilova, who was previously inducted into the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame, and Michael Chang.
Hingis, an avid equestrian, was given a horse blanket that was delivered to the court on horseback by Roger Deslauriers, who was riding I Win in full riding gear.
“I wish I could ride around the court,” Hingis said.
A music enthusiast, Courier was given a guitar from Simple Plan, autographed and presented to him by members of the Montreal-based band.
“It’s really an honour for me,” Courier said. “Being in a hall of fame is rare. It’s a good feeling to know that I have achieved a few things in sport so it’s special. I first played in Canada with Michael when we were quite young. I first played in Toronto when I was 15, and Michael was 14, so it’s been quite a few years that we have been playing in Canada.”
The 41-year-old Courier lost his match against Chang, who came to Montreal on short notice after Andre Agassi suffered an injury while training.
Agassi, who won three singles titles in Canada, was inducted into the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame in 2011.