Article: Graf, McEnroe, Court, Kramer Earn Place On U.S. Open Court Of Champions -
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Article: Graf, McEnroe, Court, Kramer Earn Place On U.S. Open Court Of Champions

Graf, McEnroe, Court, Kramer Earn Place On U.S. Open Court Of Champions

Photo By Michael Baz By Tennis Week

They shared the court as mixed doubles partners, share space in the International Tennis Hall of fame and on the final weekend of the U.S. Open John McEnroe and Steffi Graf will be reunited as the Open Era inductees into the U.S. Open Court of Champions. Jack Kramer and Margaret Court will also be honred as Golden Era Inductees into the Open's Court of Champions.
The new U.S. Open and USTA National Tennis Center attraction honors the greatest singles champions in the 123-year history of the U.S. Championships/U.S. Open. A panel of international print and broadcast journalists and fans from around the world selected the 2004 inductees from the roster of U.S. champions based on their performance at the tournament and impact on the popularity and growth of the event.

The USTA will honor the four inductees in special ceremonies in Arthur Ashe Stadium during finals Weekend of the 2004 U.S. Open and will unveil a new permanent U.S. Open Court of Champions attraction with all inductees and past champions.

The 2004 US Open Court of Champions inductees, representing the Open Era (1968 to present), and the Golden Era of the U.S. Championships (1881 to 1967) are:
  • Open Era Inductees: Steffi Graf and John McEnroe
  • Golden Era Inductees: Jack Kramer and Margaret Court
The U.S. Open Court of Champions salutes 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. The 2004 inductees join last year's inaugural class, which included Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Rod Laver, Bill Tilden and Helen Wills.

To be eligible for the U.S. Open Court of Champions, players had to have won at least one singles title and have been retired from both singles and doubles at the U.S. Open for at least five years.

"It is a rare privilege indeed, and a special moment in tennis history, to induct this class of charismatic and talented athletes into the U.S. Open Court of Champions," said Alan Schwartz, Chairman of the Board and President, USTA. "The performance of these great champions at the U.S. National Championships has helped make the U.S. Open the world's premier tennis event."

The permanent US Open Court of Champions attraction, a 9,000-square foot outdoor pavilion, bounded by the South Entry Gate and the Arthur Ashe Commemorative Garden and Sculpture, features a complete listing of all U.S. singles champions, updated annually, and through plaques and prose chronicle the achievements of the tournament's greatest champions.

Court won 18 U.S. titles, placing her second all-time behind Margaret Osborne du Pont's 25 titles. She won five U.S. singles titles (1962, 1965, 1969, 1970, 1973) in addition to her five U.S. doubles titles and eight U.S. mixed doubles titles. In 1970, her singles triumph clinched a Grand Slam, while her doubles and mixed doubles titles that year completed a rare US Open "triple crown."

Graf was a dominating force at the U.S. Open in the 1980s and 1990s, winning five women's singles titles (1988, 1989, 1993, 1995, 1996) and posting three runner-up showings. Her 1988 women's singles title at the age of 19, clinched a Grand Slam, while her 1996 women's singles title was the last at
Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Kramer used his big serve and volley game to win the first two singles titles in the post-war era — 1946 and 1947 and in the process becoming one of the most popular players in the history of the event. He also tallied titles in men's doubles (1940, 1941, 1943 and 1947) and mixed doubles (1941).

McEnroe excited his hometown New York crowds en route to four men's singles titles (1979, 1980, 1981, 1984) as well as four men's doubles titles (1979, 1981, 1983, 1989). When he defeated Bjorn Borg to win the 1981 U.S. Open singles title, he became the first player since Bill Tilden in the 1920s to win three straight U.S. men's singles titles.
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