illustrious career

USTA Pays Tribute To Pancho Gonzalez

FLUSHING, N.Y., September 2, 2009 – The USTA announced today that actor Benjamin Bratt will host a tribute to former U.S. Championships winner Pancho Gonzalez on-court in Arthur Ashe Stadium during the Night Session on Saturday, September 5.  The tribute will celebrate Gonzalez on the 60th anniversary of his second consecutive victory at the U.S. Championships, and members of the Gonzalez family as well as a number of former players and Hispanic community leaders will be in attendance.

Gonzalez, who taught himself how to play tennis at the age of 12, was considered one of the most talented tennis players of his generation and was a fan favorite on the professional tour throughout the 1950s and 60s.  Early in his career, which spanned four decades, he won back-to-back titles at the U.S. Championships in Forest Hills, N.Y. at the ages of 20 and 21.  He also won two matches to help the U.S. defeat Australia to capture the 1949 Davis Cup title.  His passion and intensity led to an illustrious career as the world No. 1 for an unequaled eight years.  As a 40-year-old in 1968, he reached the semifinals at Roland Garros and the quarterfinals of the inaugural US Open.  The following year, Gonzalez played Charlie Pasarell at Wimbledon in a five-hour match that spanned two days and led to the advent of the tie-break.  Gonzalez also became the oldest player to ever win a professional tournament when he won the Des Moines Open just shy of his 44th birthday.  Gonzalez was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame while still an active player in 1968.

“The USTA is proud to celebrate the life and legacy of such a great champion as Pancho Gonzalez,” said Lucy Garvin, President and Chairman of the Board, USTA.  “Pancho was a true pioneer in the sport of tennis and this tribute will shed light on the importance of Pancho Gonzalez to the game and its history.”

“Pancho Gonzalez was a trailblazer, not only in tennis, but across the greater American cultural landscape,” said Bratt.  “He was a role model for a generation of Hispanic-Americans, and this tribute will rightly call attention to his important and lasting legacy.  I’m proud to be a part of this celebration to honor a true legend.”

Members of the Gonzalez family will be in attendance, along with students from the Pancho Gonzalez TennisAcademy in Washington, D.C., one of whom will conduct the pre-match coin toss.

Hispanic dignitaries attending include:

  • Benjamin Bratt, actor
  • Lynda Baquero, NBC4 New York
  • Dr. Jane Delgado, CEO, National Alliance for Hispanic Health
  • Tim Garcia, judge, New Mexico
  • Danny Haro, producer/director, 2006 Pancho Gonzalez Documentary
  • Augustin Martinez, President, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Martha Montoya, President, Los Kitos Entertainment
  • Charlie Pasarell, former tennis champion
  • Bobby Perez, former tennis champion
  • Tony Plana, actor
  • John Quiñones, ABC Primetime
  • Alfred Rascon, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient
  • Pancho Segura (“Little Pancho”), former tennis champion
  • Jimmy Smits, actor
  • Andrew Valdez, judge, Utah
  • Eduardo Xol, TV personality
  • Al Zapanta, CEO, U.S. – Mexico Chamber of Commerce

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.  The US Open is the highest-attended annual sporting event in the world.  In 2008, Roger Federer won his fifth consecutive US Open title, defeating Andy Murray in the final.  In the women’s singles final, Serena Williams defeated Jelena Jankovic to capture her third career US Open title.

The 2009 US Open will be held Monday, August 31, through Sunday, September 13.  Tickets for the 2009 US Open can be purchased four ways:  1) at USOpen.org; 2) by calling Ticketmaster at 1-866-OPEN-TIX; 3) at all Ticketmaster outlets; or 4) at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center box office.  American Express is the Official Card of the US Open.

An Early Look At New Serena Book

Here’s an early look at the upcoming Serena Williams book called “ON THE LINE.” Originally called “Queen of the Court,” to book will debut on September 1, 2009. You can PRE-ORDER the book by clicking this link – On the Line

The official book description is as follows; One of the biggest stars in tennis, Serena Williams has captured every major title. Her 2009 Australia Open championship earned her the #1 world ranking for the third time in her illustrious career – and marked only the latest exclamation point on a life well and purposefully lived. As a young girl, Serena began training with an adult-sized racquet that was almost as big as her. Rather than dropping the racquet, Serena saw it as a challenge to overcome-and she has confronted every obstacle on her path to success with the same unflagging spirit. From growing up in the tough, hardscrabble neighborhood of Compton, California, to being trained by her father on public tennis courts littered with broken glass and drug paraphernalia, to becoming the top women’s player in the world, Serena has proven to be an inspiration to her legions of fans both young and old. Her accomplishments have not been without struggle: being derailed by injury, devastated by the tragic shooting of her older sister, and criticized for her unorthodox approach to tennis. Yet somehow, Serena always manages to prevail. Both on the court and off, she’s applied the strength and determination that helped her to become a champion to successful pursuits in philanthropy, fashion, television and film. In this compelling and poignant memoir, Serena takes an empowering look at her extraordinary life and what is still to come.

Endorsements for the book are as follows:

“From the first time I met her, to watching her capture the US Open, Serena has always amazed me with her ability on the court, her curiosity away from it and her overall love for life. Serena Williams is taking her life to an all new level.” (Billie Jean King )

“On the court, Serena is the most challenging opponent I’ve come up against, and off the court, she is a loving sister and a true friend. Serena has been a role model for me and an inspiration. It is difficult to imagine how I would have achieved many of my greatest accomplishments without her in my life.” (Venus Williams )

“Serena has dredged deeply into her emotions and those of the First Family of tennis-hopes and fears, aches and triumphs-to craft an exceptional memoir. Ascending from nowhere to the top of the world, she has run an exciting zig-zag course transforming darkest days into bright victories on her way to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.” (Bud Collins, author of THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS )