Since last year, Ivan Lendl’s former home in Ostrava has been decorated with a plaque commemorating the years he dominated world tennis. On September 15, 2022, the plaque, based on a design by artist Václav Šipoš, was unveiled by former professional tennis player Jiří Novák at a ceremony, and the Deputy Mayor of Ostrava, Miroslav Svozil, said at the time that Lendl also deserved a plaque for his attitude to life: “Immeasurable will, hard work, fair play. Qualities that inspire each of us.” Lendl informed the participants via video greeting that it was a great honor for him to have a memorial plaque in Ostrava. He was also looking forward to seeing them again soon, which has now become reality on June 9, 2023.
Ivan Lendl arrived at Matiční gymnázium, where he graduated in 1979, just before 8 am. Accompanied by school director Ladislav Vasevič, he first visited his former classroom and caused a stir among the students present. He signed autographs and confided to them: “I would normally be hidden somewhere in the back seat. I hated chemistry.” The 63-year-old Lendl was then greeted by his former class teacher Stanislav Tichý, who saw him for the first time since graduating and later gave him a card with a painting by Alfons Mucha. As part of an accompanying cultural program with singing performances by the students, Tichý said the following about his former student Lendl: “He was a very good student given his opportunities, which were given to him by his sports activities. His training started early in the morning, sometimes already around four o’clock, as his mother wanted him to do. If he could have devoted as much time to his studies as the others, he would have been of course among the winners of the class.” Lendl then thanked Tichý in his speech with the following words: “When I train young people, I explain to them that talent always comes with hard work, that talent alone is not everything. I’ve always remembered your discipline, which perhaps wasn’t so well received at the time, but which we respected in retrospect.” According to Lendl, this had a decisive influence on the development of his own personality. On the occasion of the 130th anniversary of the school, he then planted a sakura tree in the renovated schoolyard, which will also commemorate his visit.
After visiting his former school, Ivan Lendl was received by Mayor Jan Dohnal in the New Town Hall. He presented him with a painting by the well-known regional painter Eduard Ovčáček, to which he also enclosed a book about the life and work of the recently deceased master. Lendl then got a medal confirming his honorary citizenship of the town of Ostrava, which he had already received in June 1997. Finally, he signed the town’s memorial book and, accompanied by the mayor, admired the view from the highest town hall tower in the Czech Republic, from which one can see, for example, the sports complex where Lendl started playing tennis. This Friday’s program was rounded off by a visit to his former residential building at 18 Bachmačská Street. The unveiling of the commemorative plaque last autumn happened at very short notice and Lendl was therefore unable to take part.
The final end of the journey home was the visit to the tennis club in Prostějov the next day, where Ivan Lendl was present at an exhibition match between the 37-year-old ex-professional Tomáš Berdych and the 17-year-old hopeful Jakub Menšík and also at the final ceremony of the ATP Challenger tournament handing out the trophies. He then flew to England to help Andy Murray prepare for Wimbledon.
Ivan Lendl adorns the cover of two French tennis books which are presented here in more detail. Alan Page’s ‘Les grands défis du tennis’ was published in 1988 and contains short portraits of tennis legends of the time as well as many high-quality photos by Henri Szwarc which are the real highlight of this 95-page book. The tennis guide ‘Perfectionnez votre tennis’ by Piacentini and Missaglia was released as early as 1981. It is also illustrated throughout in colour and is aimed at advanced tennis players on its 159 pages.