US Open Opening Night Celebration to Feature Parade of Champions and Star-Studded Entertainment

August 20, 2008

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — The USTA today announced that the Opening Night Ceremony of the 2008 US Open on Monday, August 25, will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the founding of tennis’ Open Era with a parade of more than twenty-five former US Open singles champions. The on-court ceremony will be hosted by the Oscar-winning actor/director Forest Whitaker and will feature special musical performances by Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Earth, Wind & Fire and the Tony® Award winning Jersey Boys. USA Network will carry the ceremony live. Throughout the tournament, the US Open will feature additional celebrations and special tributes to past champions.

“Opening Night will be a memorable and historic evening at the US Open with the celebration of the Open Era,” said Arlen Kantarian, Chief Executive Officer, Pro Tennis, USTA. “We look forward to honoring the tournament’s rich history with some of the game’s greatest champions ever to play the game.”

Among the tennis greats expected to be on-hand for Opening Night are Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, Tracy Austin, Martina Navratilova, Stan Smith, Boris Becker, Gabrielle Sabatini, John Newcombe, Ilie Nastase, Guillermo Vilas and Mats Wilander. The celebration will include a look back to the very first US Open in 1968 and will include Virginia Wade, the first women’s singles US Open champion, and Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe and her daughter Camera Ashe, who will represent their late husband and father Arthur Ashe, who won the 1968 men’s singles title. Additionally, present day players expected to appear in the celebration include Roger Federer, Lindsay Davenport, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Marat Safin and Andy Roddick.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will participate in the opening night festivities as he welcomes the tennis world to New York. 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. Since its beginning in 1881, the U.S. National Championships was strictly limited to amateurs until 1968 when the tournament became “open” to both professionals and amateurs and changed its name to the US Open.

Forest Whitaker is one of Hollywood’s most accomplished actors, directors, and producers who has showcased his talents in a multitude of demanding and diverse roles. The year 2007 is a year to remember for Whitaker. After winning almost every Critics Award, he received the Academy Award for Best Actor, Golden Globe for Best Actor, the Best Actor SAG and BAFTA Awards for his performance as Uganda dictator Idi Amin in Fox Searchlight’s “The Last King of Scotland.” Whitaker has garnered critical attention for his performance on last season’s “The Shield” opposite Michael Chiklis, as well as for his appearance on “ER” this season, for which he garnered an Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series.

Earth, Wind & Fire is among the most influential, commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands of the last three decades. Formed in 1969 in Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire’s 39-year history resulted in millions of albums sold worldwide and distinguished awards and accolades. Founding members: Maurice White (leader, vocalist, songwriter); Philip Bailey (lead vocalist, percussionist); Verdine White (bassist); Ralph Johnson (drummer and percussionist) have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and are credited with eight Grammy Awards, four American Music Awards, honors from the NAACP, the BET Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Jersey Boys, winner of the 2006 Tony® Award for Best Musical and the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Musical Recording, tells the story of how a group of blue-collar boys from the wrong side of the tracks became one of the biggest American pop music sensations of all time —Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. The performers are Sebastian Arcelus (plays Bob Gaudio), Tony Award winner Christian Hoff (plays Tommy DeVito), Michael Longoria (plays Frankie Valli) and J. Robert Spencer (plays Nick Massi).

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