50 YEARS OF OPEN TENNIS: Poignant Moments and Profiles in Courage

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 25: Na Li of China kisses the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup after winning the women's final match against Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia during day 13 of the 2014 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 25, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

MOST POIGNANT MOMENTS: Queen Elizabeth gives Brit Virginia Wade the Wimbledon trophy in ’77…Arthur Ashe comes up with a brilliant game plan and stuns Connors to win Wimbledon in ’75…Three days before German unification, Steffi Graf wins the title in Leipzig, East Germany and then breaks down and donates her prize money to local kids…Jana Novotna’s game collapses in the ’93 Wimbledon final against Steffi Graf and she then suffers the most infamous choke in tennis history. Yet she wins our hearts when she weeps on the Duchess of Kent’s shoulder…Czech ex-patriot Navratilova returns to Prague for the ’86 Fed Cup…Goran Ivanisevic carries the Croatian flag for the first time in the ’92 Olympics…Freedom fighter Nelson Mandela meets with Arthur Ashe in New York…Andre Agassi gives his farewell address at the US Open…Pete Sampras breaks down in tears when a fan’s shout brings to mind the terminal cancer of his coach Tim Gullikson…The Cambodian Davis Cup team overcomes a genocidal history to score an astounding victory…Monica Puig becomes the first Puerto Rican to win a Gold in any sport when she gets the medal in Rio in ’16…South African tennis returns.

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Teen phenoms at the very top. Clay-meisters. Super Saturday. Swedish domination. Classy Aussie men in white. College as a pipeline for the pros. The WCT tour. Big-time tennis on CBS and NBC. Tennis that matters at Madison Square Garden, Forest Hills and LA Capri pants. World Tennis, Tennis Week, Tennis Life, Tennis West. Wilson’s T-2000 and Kramer Pro rackets, The Grand Slam Cup. Arlen Kanterian, Dick Enberg, Howard Cosell, Arthur Ashe, Frank Deford. Media folks hanging out with players. Tennis at Stanford, Super Saturday, wooden rackets, Bobby Riggs, Jimmy Van Alen, Fred Perry, Lew Hoad, Arthur Ashe, Vitas Gerulaitis, Frank Hammond, Gene Scott, Gladys Heldman, Lamar Hunt, Slew Hester, great players called Pancho or Martina. Kooyong.

PROFILES IN COURAGE: Althea Gibson was the Jackie Robinson of tennis. Arthur Ashe went from one battle to another. Billie Jean was the game’s Joan of Arc. Wimbledon official David Gray fought for Open tennis…With the help of Gladys Heldman and Joseph Cullman, the Original Nine women players laid the foundation of woman’s tennis. Natasha Zvereva confronted Soviet authorities and insisted that she could keep all her prize money and to travel freely. Similarly, Li Na fought the rigid control of Chinese authorities, and her wins were central to bringing tennis to Asia…Martina Navratilova has confronted communist suppression, homophobia, climate change and a wide range of other wrongs…When the doubles game was about to be stripped of its importance, Bob and Mike Bryan’s dad Wayne stepped in and saved the day…Shaheer Peer fought anti-Semitism in the Middle East …Venus Williams fought for equal prize money…Sergiy Stakhovsky fought against Russian suppression in the Ukraine…Aisam-ul-Haq Quereshi created the Indo-Pak Express and pushed back against Islamophobia…When a fire broke out in a Rome hotel, Andy Roddick quickly moved to save lives.


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