U.S. Open (Pro) Tennis Celebrates 40th "Birthday"
Given the prize money and popularity of professional tennis around the globe, it may surprise some to realize that it’s only been 40 years since the “open era” of professional tennis began when both amateurs and professionals were allowed to compete together. At the 1968 U.S. Open, Virginia Wade won the women’s singles title and Arthur Ashe won the men’s title. Much has changed at the U.S. Open in the past forty years. The player
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Open era, the USTA has several special activities and commemorative items planned during the 2008 U.S. Open tennis tournament. On opening night of the tournament, there was a special ceremony including many of the singles champions from the past four decades including Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, Tracy Austin, Martina Navratilova, Stan Smith, Boris Becker, Gabriela Sabatini, John Newcombe, Ilie Nastase, Guillermo Vilas, Mats Wilander, Roger Federer, Lindsay Davenport, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Marat Safin, Andy Roddick, Virginia Wade and Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe and her daughter Camera Ashe, who represented their late husband and father Arthur Ashe. At the same time, one also missed the tennis stars who were not there for the 40th anniversary celebration, e.g. Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Steffi Graf. The international aspect of professional tennis is evident by the varied nationalities of the past champions. In addition, it’s striking how many of these past U.S. open champions are huge global superstars. Today, women’s professional tennis is the most successful global sport for women and men’s pro tennis is also extremely popular all over the world. Traditionally, the United States and Australia dominated pro tennis, but that has changed in the past twenty years as many players from Europe have achieved success. One major change in the next forty years will probably be yet another demographic shift as more tennis pros appear from Asia and Africa.