|WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The USTA announced that Martina Navratilova, a four-time US Open singles champion and eight-time finalist, and Don Budge, a two-time US Open champion and three-time finalist, have been named the 2006 inductees into the US Open Court of Champions, a US Open and USTA National Tennis Center attraction honoring the greatest singles champions in the history of the U.S. Championships/US Open. |
The USTA will honor the two inductees in special ceremonies in Arthur Ashe Stadium prior to the men’s final on Sunday, September 10, and will add their commemorative plaques to the US Open Court of Champions attraction that opened last year. In addition, Navratilova will be honored with a special retirement tribute as she plays in her 29th and final US Open before retiring from the pro game.
The US Open Court of Champions salutes the tournament’s all-time greatest champions with an individual permanent monument that serves as a lasting tribute. The 2006 inductees will join prior inductees including Jimmy Connors, Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Steffi Graf, Billie Jean King, Jack Kramer, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe and Bill Tilden. A panel of international print and broadcast journalists selected the 2006 inductees from the roster of U.S. champions based on their performances at the tournament and their impact on the growth of the event.
“Martina Navratilova and Don Budge are two of the greatest champions ever to compete at the US Open and U.S. Championships and we look forward to celebrating their remarkable achievements and legacies,” said Franklin Johnson, Chairman of the Board and President, USTA. “Their historic performances at this tournament have helped make the US Open one of the world's premier sporting events."
“The US Open Court of Champions provides a lasting tribute to the greatest singles champions in the history of the event,” said Arlen Kantarian, Chief Executive, Professional Tennis, USTA. “These two champions join an elite group of the tournament’s all-time greatest – the best of the best – and we look forward to an on-court ceremony during finals weekend that will recognize their achievements, along with a special tribute for Martina, whose Open-Era records may never be surpassed.”
Navratilova was the dominant women’s player at the US Open in the 1980s, winning back-to-back titles in 1983-84 and again in 1986-87, and reaching the finals on four other occasions. Navratilova compiled a career record of 89-17 in 21 career singles appearances. In 1987, Navratilova won the singles title, women’s doubles crown and mixed doubles to sweep all three events for the first time since Margaret Smith Court in 1970. In total, she won four singles, nine doubles and two mixed doubles titles with her aggressive all-court game and natural ability around the net that made her a one-of-a-kind champion.
Budge won back-to-back titles in 1937-38, the latter of which was the fourth and final leg of his historic and unprecedented Grand Slam in 1938 that also saw him capture titles at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. Budge also captured the men’s doubles and mixed doubles titles in 1938 for a sweep of all three events. In all, he finished with two singles, two doubles and two mixed doubles crowns at the U.S. Championships. The overpowering 6-1 red-head was considered for a long time to have the smoothest backhand in the game. He died in January 2000 at the age of 84.
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.