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By Randy Walker



It was 20 years ago on August 25, 1997, when Arthur Ashe Stadium was first dedicated.

As documented in my book and mobile app “This Day In Tennis,” the United States Tennis Association dedicated Arthur Ashe Stadium with a dramatic on-court ceremony featuring Ashe’s widow Jeanne Moutassamy Ashe, Whitney Houston and 38 former champions to kick off the night session on the first night of the tournament. Houston sings the song “One Moment In Time” which becomes perhaps the signature musical moment in tennis history. The 38 former champions on court during the ceremony include a wheelchair-bound 82-year-old Don Budge, Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Chris Evert as well as Monica Seles, just minutes before she was to take the very same Arthur Ashe Stadium Court to play her opening U.S. Open match against Kristie Boogert of the Netherlands.

”It’s one of those nights you maybe have 10 moments like this in your tennis career,” Seles said.

Missing among the champions on court including Pete Sampras, who was preparing for his match later that night against Australian Todd Larkham, Andre Agassi and Jimmy Connors. Also missing was new New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, upset with the deal that the former mayor David Dinkins executed with the U.S. Tennis Association for the expansion of the USTA National Tennis Center grounds and the lease the organization has with the city.

Earlier in the day, Tamarine Tanasugarn became an excellent trivia question answers as the winner of the first-ever match on Arthur Ashe Stadium defeating Chanda Rubin 6-4, 6-0. Future world No. 1 and two-time U.S. Open champion Venus Williams made her U.S. Open debut during the day session also on Arthur Ashe Stadium Court defeating Larisa Neiland of Latvia in the first round 5-7, 6-0, 6-1. Todd Martin became the first man to win a match on Arthur Ashe Stadium when he upset Davis Cup teammate Jim Courier 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Said Martin after his win, “I might have won the match on eagerness.”

Ashe Stadium Ceremony

Ashe Stadium Ceremony

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About Admin
Randy Walker is a communications and marketing specialist, writer, tennis historian and the managing partner of New Chapter Media – www.NewChapterMedia.com. He was a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s marketing and communications division where he worked as the press officer for 22 U.S. Davis Cup ties, three Olympic tennis teams and was an integral part of USTA media services team for 14 US Opens. He is the author of the books ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY and THE DAYS OF ROGER FEDERER

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