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Ashe Inducted into US Open Court of Champions

FLUSHING, N.Y. — The USTA announced today that Arthur Ashe, the first African American US Open men’s singles champion and one of tennis’ greatest ambassadors, has been named the 2009 inductee into the US Open Court of Champions, a US Open and USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center attraction honoring the greatest singles champions in the history of the 128 years of the U.S. Championships/US Open. Ashe will be inducted during a ceremony on Thursday evening, September 10, and President Bill Clinton will participate in a tribute to this tennis icon and humanitarian, to be broadcast live on ESPN2.

The US Open Court of Champions salutes the tournament’s all-time greatest champions with an individual permanent monument that serves as a lasting tribute. Ashe will join prior inductees Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Jimmy Connors, Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Althea Gibson, Steffi Graf, Billie Jean King, Jack Kramer, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, Molla Bjurstedt Mallory, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Bill Tilden and Helen Wills. A panel of international print and broadcast journalists selected the 2009 inductee from the roster of U.S. champions based on their performances at the tournament and their impact on the growth of the event.

“Arthur Ashe is one of the greatest champions to ever compete at the US Open and we are proud to honor his remarkable legacy,” said Lucy Garvin, Chairman of the Board and President, USTA. “Arthur was a great humanitarian and his legacy and his performance helped the tournament become one of the world’s premier sporting events.”

Following his tenure in the White House, President Clinton established the William J. Clinton Foundation with the mission to strengthen the capacity of people in the United States and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence. The Foundation has grown into a global 501(c)(3) nongovernmental organization with 1,400 staff and volunteers in more than 40 countries working to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic, fight climate change, develop sustainable economic growth in Africa and Latin America, tackle the childhood obesity epidemic, and help expand economic opportunity.

The Clinton Global Initiative, established by President Clinton in 2005, has brought together more than 100 current and former heads of state; 14 Nobel Peach Prize winners; hundreds of leading global CEO’s, heads of foundations, and major philanthropists; and directors of the most effective nongovernmental organizations to identify and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI’s Fifth Annual Meeting will take place September 22-25, 2009 in New York City.

Ashe was the US Open singles champion in 1968, and reached the final again in 1972. In his career, he captured 33 singles titles and 18 doubles titles, including three Grand Slam championships. Prior to that, he was the first African-American to win the NCAA singles title (for UCLA in 1965), and he represented the United States in the Davis Cup every year from 1965 to 1970, helping his country to the title from 1968 to 1970. Ashe also worked extensively off the court to end poverty and racism worldwide. In 1969, Ashe founded the USTA National Junior Tennis League, now the National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) network. Ashe envisioned NJTL as a way of developing the character of young people through tennis and education. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, NJTL has grown to more than 550 chapters nationwide, serving more than 220,000 youths each year. It has become one of USTA’s largest community- based offerings.

The US Open Court of Champions, a 9,000-square foot outdoor pavilion bounded by the South Entry Gate and the Arthur Ashe Commemorative Garden and Sculpture, celebrates the event’s greatest champions with an individual permanent monument to serve as a lasting tribute. The attraction also features a complete listing of all U.S. singles champions since the competition began in 1881.

 

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