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USTA to Celebrate Athletes Who 'Give Back'

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — The USTA announced today that the 2009 US Open will feature a special Opening Night ceremony on Arthur Ashe Stadium court with a celebration of athletes who have devoted their energies to “giving back” in supporting a number of worthy causes. Among the sports stars to be honored are Andre Agassi, Mia Hamm, David Robinson, and Doug Flutie. The special ceremony, hosted by Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts, will also include an appearance by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and will be televised live on ESPN2.

“It’s always an honor to have a statesman and beloved tennis figure such as Andre back at the US Open,” said Lucy S. Garvin, USTA Chairman of the Board and President. “These four athletes are the epitome of what the USTA, as a key component of our mission, strives to achieve every day of every year—to give back to a sporting public that has given so much to us.”

The USTA’s mission to promote and develop the growth of tennis. The association invests 100 percent of its proceeds—including all proceeds from the 2009 US Open—to growing the game, awarding grants to build courts and develop programs in local communities. Opening Night is also “USTA Serves Night.” USTA Serves is the philanthropic arm of the USTA, providing scholarships and resources to under-privileged populations.

As part of the Opening Night celebration, the USTA will recognize the 40th Anniversary of National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL), which was founded in 1969 by Arthur Ashe, Charlie Pasarell, and Sheridan Snyder as a network of community tennis organizations seeking to develop the character of young people through tennis and education. The NJTL commemoration will include a special video presentation featuring dozens of children from New York-area NJTL chapters.

Andre Agassi, an eight-time Major singles champion, won two US Open titles and owns the Open Era record of 21 consecutive US Open appearances. In 1994, the same year he won his first US Open title at the age of 24, Agassi established the Andre Agassi Foundation (agassifoundation.org). Dedicated to transforming public education, the Foundation creates opportunities for children through its signature project, The Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, a K-12 public charter school in Las Vegas, which provides students with a first-class education; and by working to increase investment in, and accountability for, public schools through state and national advocacy.

David Robinson, named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history by a blue-ribbon panel commissioned by the NBA, spent his entire pro basketball career with the San Antonio Spurs (1989-2003) and led them to two NBA titles. He was a three-time Olympian, including in 1992, when he was a member of the fabled Dream Team. In 1997, on an inner-city block in San Antonio, Robinson founded the Carver Academy, which offers elementary-age children “an education of excellence” regardless of race, creed or financial status.

Mia Hamm, a three-time Olympic soccer medalist and two-time World Cup champion, is the all-time international leading scorer—male or female—and was the youngest athlete ever to play for the U.S. National Team. She established the Mia Hamm Foundation to raise funds and awareness for bone marrow transplants in honor of her brother Garrett, who passed away from complications of a bone marrow disease. The foundation also supports programs and initiatives for young women in sports.

Doug Flutie, a fan-favorite quarterback whose name is synonymous with college and professional football excellence, won the 1984 Heisman Trophy, earned the Canadian Football League’s Most Outstanding Player award an unprecedented six times and was an NFL Pro Bowl selection. In honor of his son, Doug, Jr., Flutie established the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism in 1998 and has raised $11 million to provide families of children with autism a place to turn when they are in need of support and autism resources.

Also featured during the Opening Night celebration will be singer/songwriter Rob Thomas, one of modern music’s most compelling and commercially successful artists, who will perform “America the Beautiful,” and the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The O’Jays, who will take fans for a nostalgic ride on their “Love Train.” The ceremony will be capped with members of the U.S. Marine Corps unfurling a giant American flag across the court during Thomas’ performance.

The 2009 US Open qualifying draw will be held Tuesday, August 25, through Friday, August 28. The 2009 US Open main draw will be held Monday, August 31, through Sunday, September 13.

 

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