US Open Notes: Althea Gibson; Navratilova Left Out
HONORING ALTHEA — The USTA has been doing a lot of things right this year at the US Open, from showcasing tournament improvements to joint press conferences with players such as Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova who shared a media opportunity to celebrate winning the US Open Series. On Monday the USTA will open the night session with the theme “Breaking Barriers,” celebrating the 50th anniversary of Althea Gibson’s historic victory at the US Open. In 1957 Gibson became the first African-American to raise the US Open trophy after breaking the U.S. tennis color barrier in 1950. She also won the French Open and Wimbledon, 11 Slam titles in all including six in doubles. “She made tennis a better place,” said USTA President Jane Brown Grimes, “by opening doors and opening minds. She is finally receiving the recognition she so richly deserves.” Included is a well-done intro by USA Network and the two Williams sisters.
US OPEN EXPANDS WITH INDOOR PAVILION — Scheduled to be completed by the 2008 US Open, the USTA’s premier event will expand with a 200,000 square foot indoor tennis pavilion near the East Gate. The pavilion will house 12 indoor courts (nine on the first level, three on the upper level) with viewing areas for all courts, along with training center classrooms, a pro shop, fitness facilities and a cafe. During the US Open a hospitality area and SmashZone will be open, as well as a “superstore,” museum and food court. The pavilion will allow the USTA to expand its junior programs, leagues, camps and adult/wheelchair play in Flushing Meadows.
NO ROOM FOR MARTINA IN COMMENTATING BOOTH — Former No. 1 Martina Navratilova is solely a spectator this year at the US Open after failing to get picked up for a commentating gig. “It’s kind of mind-boggling,” Navratilova told Newsday. “When you have a football team and Joe Montana becomes available, you don’t say, ‘Oh, we already have a quarterback,’ but that’s exactly what happened.” Navratilova says time to spice things up. “I think the commentary is a little vanilla, and I’d like to put some hot chili peppers in there. Maybe they’re afreaid of what I’d say.” And her place in tennis history? “I’m the greatest of all time,” Navratilova said. “That’s what everyone else says, so who am I to argue?…The numbers don’t lie. What was it that Muhammad Ali said? ‘If it’s true, it ain’t bragging.’”
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