2010 U.S. Open Tennis Opening Night Celebration
Opening night at the U.S. Open tennis tournament traditionally features a couple matches with American tennis stars, as well as a special celebration. This year, the USTA honored those who “dream, succeed and inspire”. The ceremony honored Martina Navratilova, James Blake, wheelchair tennis legend, Esther Vergeer, and USTA
Martina Navratilova was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year and has showed her champion’s heart and courage in working to defeat it. She even plans to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in December! Thirty year old, James Blake, former U.S. Open quarterfinalist, top tenner and member of the United States Davis Cup Champion team, had scoliosis as a child and wore a brace for 18 hours a day. In 2004, he fractured his neck and battled Zoster before triumphantly returning to the Tour and reaching Number Four in the world in 2006. Esther Verger, who has been in a wheelchair since she was eight years old, began playing wheelchair tennis at 12. Verger, who has won 390 consecutive matches since, January, 2003, has one of the most incredible streaks in sports. Dori Samadzai-Bonner, who grew up in Afghanistan where girls were not allowed to play sports, always dreamed of coming to the United States. Samadzai-Bonner, who now lives in Montgomery, Alabama, started playing tennis in high school and still enjoys playing tennis.
None of the other Grand Slams host a celebration such as this on opening night of the tournament. Past years have honored former U.S. Open champions, as well as the philanthropic efforts of Andre Agassi and other star athletes. It’s a wonderful tradition that just might be worth replicating at other Grand Slams!