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 Semifinals.

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 doubles titles.

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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