In 1978, USTA President W.E. "Slew" Hester spearheaded the move of the US Open from the West Side Tennis Club to the newly constructed USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The new facility, which featured the 20,000-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium as its centerpiece, was financed by the USTA (with no public funding) and built on the grounds of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs. The move from the private West Side Tennis Club to the public USTA National Tennis Center created a world-class venue for the US Open and ushered in an era of play on America’s public courts.
In 1997, the USTA opened Arthur Ashe Stadium as its main stadium and expanded the tennis facilities at the USTA National Tennis Center. The construction increased the number of courts on the grounds from 25 to 45 and saw the acreage more than double to 46.5 acres. In 2006, the USTA renamed the entire facility the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in honor of one of tennis’ finest ambassadors and a product of public courts in her native Long Beach, Calif.
Expansion of the USTA National Tennis Center has increased the number of outdoor courts available for public play to 30. This does not include Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium or the Grandstand. In addition, there are 12 indoor courts and 4 climate-controlled clay courts available for public use.
In actuality, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is open to the public seven days a week, 11 months a year, closing only on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The USTA pays the City of New York more than $1.5 million per year in rent and is permitted to use the NTC for its own events, including the US Open, for no more than 60 days a year, ensuring the facility’s use by the public for 10 months.
The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center has a staff of more than 20 USPTA and/or PTR-certified professionals conducting programs, clinics, private lessons, leagues and tournaments year-round. The NTC also supports all USTA Community Tennis and Player Development initiatives.
Other tournaments held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center include the Men's and Women’s College Tennis Invitational (an ITA event) and other ITA college events and conference championships; the Jana Hunsaker Memorial Eastern Wheelchair Championships (an ITF event); the USTA Men's and Women's National Open Indoor Championships and a host of USTA Eastern sectional tournaments for juniors, adults and seniors as well as New York Junior Tennis League (NYJTL) and New York City Parks Foundation programs for junior and senior players.
The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center professional staff also conducts community tennis programs, including QuickStart Tennis for children 10 and under to learn tennis in a fun and dynamic way; USTA Jr. Team Tennis for youth match play; USTA League Tennis for competitive, level-of-play competition and an official Cardio Tennis site for on-court heart pumping fitness.
Initiatives for USTA Player Development include an Invitational USTA Competition Training Center for ranked players, Player Development programs for top-ranking juniors residing in the Northeast and a year-round USTA Tournament Training Program for ranked juniors.
In addition, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center hosts events for coaches training and education, including United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) functions, four Certification Training Courses and Developmental Coaches Workshops each year, annual meetings and conventions and at least four Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) Teaching Essentials Workshops and Professional Development Workshops.