USTA Honors King, Laver, Evert and Connors in On-Court
Ceremonies for US Open Court of Champions
Event's Greatest Champions Return to Arthur Ashe Stadium For Induction
Ceremonies This Weekend Preceding Women's and Men's Singles Championships
King and Laver on Saturday Night; Evert and Connors on Sunday Tilden and Wills
to Receive Video Tributes
FLUSHING, N.Y., September 5, 2003 - The USTA today announced the participation
of Billie Jean King, Rod Laver, Chris Evert and Jimmy Connors in the induction
ceremonies for US Open Court of Champions, a new US Open and USTA National
Tennis Center attraction honoring the greatest singles champions in the 122-year
history of the U.S. Championships/US Open.
King, Laver, Evert and Connors will be honored at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 7,
preceding the Men's Singles Championship. The USTA will pay tribute to Bill
Tilden and Helen Wills on Saturday afternoon, during the Men's Singles
The inaugural US Open Court of Champions inductees, representing the greatest
players from the Golden Era of the U.S. Championships (1881 to 1967), the Open
Era (1968 to present), and those whose careers spanned both eras, are:
Open Era Inductees: Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert
Golden Era Inductees: Bill Tilden and Helen Wills
Open/Golden Era Inductees: Billie Jean King and Rod Laver
A panel of 50 international print and broadcast journalists selected the
inaugural class for the Court of Champions from the roster of U.S. champions
based on performance at the tournament and their indelible mark on the
popularity and growth of the event.
To be eligible, players had to have won at least one singles title and have been
retired from both singles and doubles at the US Open for at least five years.
Additional players will be inducted in the future.
The US Open Court of Champions will salute the tournament's all-time greatest
champions with an individual permanent monument that will serve as a lasting
tribute to those select few who have helped build the tournament into one of the
world's top sporting events. This permanent attraction will debut in 2004 with a
temporary display in place for this year's event.
Connors stirred Open crowds en route to a record five men's singles titles in
the Open Era (1974, 1976, 1978, 1982, 1983) and stands as the only player to win
US Open singles titles on three surfaces (1974 on grass; 1976 on clay; and 1978,
1982, and 1983 on hard courts). Connors has played in the most US Open matches
(115) in history and his 98 singles match victories are unmatched by any other
men's player. Connors also won a US Open doubles title in 1975.
Evert graced the courts at the US Open for an Open Era record six women's
singles titles (1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1982), while she reached the
semifinals a record 16 straight years (1971 to 1986), and in 17 of her 19 US
Open appearances. She holds the US Open record for most matches won (101) and
most matches played by a woman (113).
King won U.S. titles as both an amateur and a professional, winning the U.S.
singles title in 1967 as an amateur as well as US Open singles titles in 1971,
1972 and 1974 as a professional. A major force in the tennis boom of the 1970s,
King was the driving force in the USTA's decision to offer equal prize money to
men and women at the US Open in 1973. She won 13 titles at the U.S.
Championships/US Open, including five U.S. women's doubles titles and four mixed
Laver won two singles titles, in 1962 in the U.S. Championships as an amateur
and in 1969 at the US Open as a professional, both clinching Grand Slams. Laver
remains the only player in tennis history to twice clinch its most difficult
achievement. Laver reached the U.S. singles final in 1960 and 1961 and was a
four-time semifinalist and five-time quarterfinalist in his 11 U.S.
Championships/US Open appearances.
Tilden won a record 16 U.S. Championship titles, more than any other man. He was
victorious in seven men's singles finals (1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925,
1929). In addition, Tilden won five men's doubles titles and four mixed doubles
titles. He holds the championship record for most consecutive men's singles
victories with 42 (won between 1920 and 1926).
Wills entered the U.S. singles championships nine times, reaching the finals
each year, winning seven titles. From 1927 to 1933, Wills won a record 45
straight singles matches. Her .962 winning percentage at the U.S. Championships
remains the highest of any competitor in the 122-year-history of the event.
Wills also claimed four U.S. doubles titles and two mixed doubles titles.
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