WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., August 13, 2008 – The USTA today announced that the 2008 US Open will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the founding of tennis’ Open Era. The US Open’s Opening Night on August 25 will launch the celebration with an on-court ceremony highlighting the 40 US Open singles champions in the 40 years since 1968. Throughout the tournament, the US Open will feature additional celebrations and special tributes to past champions. To mark this historic anniversary, the USTA has also produced a commemorative coffee table book, collectible coins, a vintage clothing line, and a dedicated 40th Anniversary website.
The US Open and the city of New York share a special relationship that dates back to 1915, when the West Side Tennis Club first hosted the men’s singles U.S. National Championships, a precursor to the modern-day US Open. Until 1968, the U.S. National Championships was strictly limited to amateurs but forty years ago, the tournament became “open” to both professionals and amateurs and the name changed from the U.S. Championships to the US Open.
The size and scope of the US Open continues to expand and develop each year. A total of $100,000 was offered by the USTA to the field of 96 men and 64 women who entered the men’s and women’s singles and doubles events at the 1968 US Open. In 1973, the US Open became the first Grand Slam to offer equal prize money to men and women. Today, US Open prize money exceeds $20 million and features more than 600 men and women, including qualifying.
“The 2008 US Open will pay tribute to one of the most significant milestones in the history of tennis — the birth of the Open Era,” said Jane Brown Grimes, President and Chairman of the Board, USTA. “By allowing both professionals and amateurs to compete together, the Open Era transformed the sport, creating a platform to elevate the sport’s popularity and grow the game on every level.”
“We will be launching a two-week celebration of this historic occasion with what is sure to be an unforgettable Opening Night,” said Arlen Kantarian, Chief Executive Officer, Pro Tennis, USTA. “The 40th anniversary gives us the opportunity to honor the tournament’s rich history and the game’s greatest champions — past and present — all of whom have played a substantial role in making the US Open one of the world’s most celebrated sporting events.”
Special Celebrations and Programs
- An Opening Night ceremony honoring the Open Era’s 40 US Open champions.
- Vignettes highlighting the Open Era’s 40 US Open champions will be displayed on the video boards on the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
- A micro-site on USOpen.org will serve as a retrospective of the US Open and Open Era champions featuring a historical overview of the event and exclusive photo and video highlights of the US Open’s most memorable moments.
- The Open Book: Celebrating 40 Years of America’s Grand Slam — a hardcover, coffee table book published by Triumph Books — will be sold in bookstores and major retail outlets.
- The US Open program and US Open draw sheets will include special 40th Anniversary features and historic tributes.
- A vintage clothing line — part of the US Open Collection — captures the spirit of the 40th Anniversary.
- Limited edition silver commemorative coins minted by The Highland Mint and featuring the 40th Anniversary US Open logo will be sold on-site.
US Open Historical Highlights from the Open Era
- Arthur Ashe became the first African-American male to win a Grand Slam in 1968; in 1997, the USTA opened Arthur Ashe Stadium in his honor.
- Billie Jean King needed just 13 games to win the first-ever US Open stadium-court match in 1968; the National Tennis Center was renamed in her honor in 2006.
- Three individual players have completed the Grand Slam at the US Open during the Open Era — Rod Laver in 1969, Margaret Court in 1970 and Steffi Graf in 1988.
- Jimmy Connors is the only player to win the US Open singles championship on three different surfaces — on grass in 1974, on clay in 1976 and on hard court in 1978.
- The men’s and women’s champions at the 1973 US Open each received equal prize money for the first time in Grand Slam history.
- Night tennis was instituted at the US Open in 1975 — the first Grand Slam to feature night tennis.
- The US Open moved from Forest Hills to its current home, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, in 1978.
- Chris Evert captured her sixth US Open title in 1982, the most of any man or woman during the Open Era.
- The first Grand Slam prime-time women’s singles final was played in 2001 — Venus Williams’ defeat of sister Serena was viewed by an estimated 22.7 million viewers.
- The Olympus US Open Series was introduced in 2004, creating a summer tennis season that culminates with the US Open and offers bonus prize money to its participants.
- Instant replay with a player challenge system made its Grand Slam debut at the 2006 US Open. 32% of the challenged calls are reversed.
- US Open attendance topped 700,000 for the first time (715,587), at the 2007 US Open. Total attendance at the US Open has increased by more than 150,000 since the opening of Arthur Ashe Stadium.
40 Champions in 40 Years
Below are the US Open champions in alphabetical order with their Open Era championship year(s):
|Andre Agassi||1994, 1999|
|Tracy Austin||1979, 1981|
|Jimmy Connors||1974, 1976, 1978, 1982, 1983|
|Stefan Edberg||1991, 1992|
|Chris Evert||1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1982|
|Roger Federer||2004, 2005, 2006, 2007|
|Steffi Graf||1988, 1989, 1993, 1995, 1996|
|Justine Henin||2003, 2007|
|Billie Jean King||1971, 1972, 1974|
|Ivan Lendl||1985, 1986, 1987|
|John McEnroe||1979, 1980, 1981, 1984|
|Martina Navratilova||1983, 1984, 1986, 1987|
|Patrick Rafter||1997, 1998|
|Pete Sampras||1990, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2002|
|Arantxa Sanchez Vicario||1994|
|Monica Seles||1991, 1992|
|Margaret Smith Court||1969, 1970, 1973|
|Serena Williams||1999, 2002|
|Venus Williams||2000, 2001|
# # #
The USTA is the national governing body for the sport of tennis in the U.S. and the leader in promoting and developing the growth of tennis at every level – – from local communities to the highest level of the professional game. It owns and operates the US Open, the highest attended annual sporting event in the world, and launched the Olympus US Open Series linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open. In addition, it owns the 94 Pro Circuit events throughout the U.S., and selects the teams for the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympic and Paralympic Games. A not-for-profit organization with 725,000 members, it invests 100% of its proceeds in growing the game. For more information on the USTA, log on to usta.com.