Daniel Nestor can only come up with the word “overwhelmed” to describe the feeling of having a star with his name on it placed alongside stars for Canadians such as Wayne Gretzky and Michael J. Fox.
Canada’s most decorated tennis player will be inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in a televised ceremony on Saturday at the Elgin Theatre. His star will be added to the Walk, which runs along Toronto’s King and Simcoe Streets.
He will be inducted alongside astronaut Dr. Roberta Bondar, musician Burton Cummings, actress Sandra Oh, comedian Russell Peters, and the late writer Mordecai Richler.
It’s the second national honour this year for Nestor, who was born in the former Yugoslavia and moved to Toronto when he was 4. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound doubles player was inducted as a member of the Order of Canada in January.
“It’s been a very special year on and off the court for me,” Nestor said. “I’m really honoured, and it feels a little strange.”
The 39-year-old champion doubles player isn’t typically showered with attention, as he’s often overshadowed lately by rising Canadian singles players Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil.
Nestor is the only player to win all four Grand Slams, all of the Masters Series events, the year-end Masters Cup and an Olympic Gold medal in doubles. In his 21-year pro tennis career, he has won seven major titles, the most recent at Roland Garros in May partnered with Max Mirnyi of Belarus.
The lefty has 73 titles to his credit and has won more than $9-million in prize money in singles and doubles combined. He was the world’s No. 1-ranked doubles player for more than 90 weeks.
“The biggest reason I keep playing is because I keep learning and finding more consistency as I get older,” said Nestor, who is currently ranked No. 5. “I wasn’t so happy with the way I played as a young player – too sporadic – so in a way, I’m playing to make amends for that now.”
Nestor says he’s especially enthused about two events in 2012, where he is likely to partner with either Pospisil or Raonic: playing at the London Summer Olympics and hosting a Davis Cup World Group tie in Canada.
“The key to that event is going to be what happens off the court, because fans of Davis Cup tennis are allowed to get loud and rowdy and make it really tough on the visiting team,” Nestor said. “Canadians may not know they can do that, but we’ve definitely seen it on the road in other countries, and we’d love to see fans get crazy and create a great home atmosphere for us.”