2009 US OPen Opening Night Ceremony Will Celebrate Athletes Who Give Back
July 6, 2009
*WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., July 6, 2009 – *The USTA announced today that the Opening Night Ceremony for the 2009 US Open will celebrate athletes who give back, featuring two-time US Open singles champion Andre Agassi and other notable athletes. ESPN2 will televise the celebration live, marking the cable network’s first primetime telecast from the US Open. ESPN was named the US Open’s lead cable telecaster in May 2008.
Agassi, the eight-time Grand Slam singles champion and a role model both on and off the court, owns the Open Era record of 21 consecutive US Open appearances, having last competed in the 2006 US Open. In 1994, the same year in which Agassi won his first US Open title at the age of 24, he founded The Andre Agassi Foundation. Dedicated to transforming U.S. public education through practice, policy and partnerships, the Foundation has raised nearly $75 million to provide opportunities to underserved youth. The centerpiece of the Andre Agassi Foundation is the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy (a K-12 public charter school) located in Las Vegas, Nev. On June 12, 2009, the first-ever senior class graduated from the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy with 100% of the students receiving a diploma and going on to higher education.
“We are honored to bring Andre Agassi back to the US Open to recognize all that he has done as an athlete and as a humanitarian,” said Lucy S. Garvin, Chairman of the Board and President, USTA. “Andre has done more than win Grand Slams. He has touched the lives of countless children through the Andre Agassi Foundation and there is no better place to honor his off-court achievements than at Opening Night at the US Open.”
Agassi will be joined on court by a number of other notable athletes from other sports, who also have devoted their energies to giving back and supporting a number of worthy charitable causes.
Opening Night Ceremonies have become a tradition at the US Open and have been held annually since 2002. Prior ceremonies include tributes to Arthur Ashe, Althea Gibson and Billie Jean King. The 2006 US Open began with a special ceremony renaming the facility as the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and Agassi’s first round match followed the ceremony marking the eighth time in nine years that Agassi played on Opening Night at the US Open. In addition to the top names in tennis, Opening Night ceremonies have also featured top entertainers and performers including Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Queen Latifah, Diana Ross and Tony Bennett.
The 2009 US Open will be held from Monday, August 31 through Sunday, September 13 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess, a full-day tennis and music festival for children and families, will kick off the US Open for the 14th consecutive year and will take place on Saturday, August 29.
For the eighth consecutive year, New York City Mayor Michael R. 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 U.S. National Men’s Singles 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.
Tennis has been part of ESPN since its first week on the air and has provided many memorable moments, but it has never been as important as today, with the US Open joining the lineup, giving ESPN all four Grand Slam events, something no other network has ever done. ESPN debuted September 7, 1979, and the first tennis telecast was exactly one week later, September 14, a Davis Cup tie, Argentina at U.S. from Memphis with Cliff Drysdale on the call.
Almost all the tennis is now found on ESPN2, giving the network the identity as the destination for tennis fans and giving the sport a home that is flexible enough to carry extensive live programming – and adding to the schedule as storylines dictate. ESPN and ESPN2 both reach 98 million households nationwide. Also, ESPN Classic shows great matches from the past and the sport receives extensive coverage on SportsCenter, ESPNEWS, broadband ESPN360, Spanish-language ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio, ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine.
The 2009 US Open will feature day sessions beginning at 11 a.m. and night sessions beginning at 7 p.m. from Monday, Aug. 31 through the quarterfinals on Thursday, Sept. 10. Finals Weekend will feature the Women’s Singles Semifinals on Friday, Sept. 11; the Men’s Singles Semifinals on Saturday, Sept. 12; the Women’s Singles Final in primetime at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12; and the Men’s Singles Final at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 13. (see attached 2009 US Open schedule)
The 2009 US Open will mark the culmination of the Olympus US Open Series, the six-week summer tennis season linking all major ATP and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour tournaments in North America to the US Open. Last year, more than 70 million viewers watched the US Open on CBS Sports and USA Network, while international broadcasts reached 180 countries. In 2008, Roger Federer defeated Andy Murray to win his fifth consecutive US Open singles title, while in the Women’s Singles Final, Serena Williams defeated Jelena Jankovic to win her third US Open title.