Please update your profile

Your Safe Play Approval Expires in $(daysToExpire) days!

Your Safe Play Approval has expired!

Your Admin status expires in $(daysToExpire) days!

Your Organization Admin is expired!

Your Membership Expires in $(daysToExpire) days!

Your Membership has expired!

Please complete your account creation
This is the membership endpoints html.
accesstoken
viewCart
deleteCart
addToCart
retrieveMembersDetails
getMemberInfo
unlinkMember
submitNewMemberInfo
traditionalUpdateCustomerDetails
paymentDetails
addVoucher
removeVoucher
validateAddress
getOrganization
orders
deleteCard
addCard
setDefaultPaymentInfo
unsubscribe
getSection

USTA History

The roots of lawn tennis and what is now known as the USTA can be traced to the late 19th century. Learn more about the USTA's history below, including key dates, former names and important locations.


Compiled by Warren Kimball, USTA historian 

 

1874 – Major Walter Clopton Wingfield, a retired British officer, publishes “The Major’s Game of Lawn Tennis.” That was, indisputably, the beginning of our game: lawn tennis. The game was centered in the Northeast, but by the mid-1870s, it was being played in New Orleans, San Francisco and even Camp Apache in the Arizona Territory, likely brought there by British merchants and consuls.


1881 – Founding of the U.S. National Lawn Tennis Association. A small group of men from northeastern clubs, where most lawn tennis was played, form an association to promote the standardization of the rules and regulations for lawn tennis throughout the United States.


1881 – The first U.S, National Singles Championship for men, the precursor to the modern-day US Open, is held at the Casino in Newport, R.I.


1882 – James (“Jim”) Dwight, the founding father of the U.S. National Lawn Tennis Association, is elected president for the first of his 21 single-year terms.


1900 – The inaugural men’s International Lawn Tennis Challenge (Davis Cup) match is won by the United States, playing a British Isles team at Longwood Cricket Club outside Boston.


1917 – A committee on Equalization of Voting Power is established after hints of secession from midwestern and western sections, which sought a greater role in governance.


1920 – The USNLTA drops the "N" from its name and becomes the USLTA.


1923 – The USLTA capitalizes a new stadium at the West Side Tennis club in Forest Hills, N.Y. The West Side Tennis Club serves as the primary residence for the U.S. Championships until 1978.


1950 – Althea Gibson’s application to play in the U.S. National Championships is “accepted on her ability.” The 23-year-old became the first black American player, woman or man, to play in a Grand Slam event.


1958 – Individual membership is established, changing the association’s focus on clubs as the only voting members.


1962 – The first woman, Marion Wood Huey, is elected to the executive committee.


1963 – The inaugural International Tennis Federation’s international women’s team championship (later called the Fed Cup) is won by the United States against Australia.


1968 – Bob Kelleher and Alastair Martin go to Paris and, following strong British actions, negotiate with the International Lawn Tennis Federation to allow Open tennis. Thus, the U.S. Championships become the US Open.


1973 – USTA incorporates as a not-for-profit sports association, with the National Educational Foundation permitted to receive tax deductible contributions.


1975 – The U.S. Lawn Tennis Association loses its “L” and becomes the USTA.


1978 – The US Open moves to its new location, under President Slew Hester’s leadership, at Flushing Meadows in Queens, N.Y.


1980 – USTA hires its first executive director.


1983 – Puerto Rico together with the U.S. Virgin Islands become the last of the USTA’s 17 sections.


1989 – The first woman officer, Barbara Williams, is elected to the board of directors.


1993 – USTA strictly forbids discrimination in sanctioned tournaments, soon expanded to include discrimination throughout the association.


1993 – The first African-American officer, Dwight Mosley, is elected to the board of directors.


1996 – The association adopts its first strategic plan.


1997 – Arthur Ashe Stadium is completed at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows. The stadium is the largest tennis-specific stadium on the world, seating 23,200.


1999 – The first woman, Judy Levering, is elected USTA president.


2006 – The US Open changes the name of its site to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in honor of the tennis legend and ambassador, a product of America’s public parks.


2015 – The first African-American woman and first former touring pro, Katrina Adams, is elected USTA president.


2016 – As part of a larger strategic transformation that renovates the US Open grounds, a retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium is completed.


2017 – The USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., is unveiled (pictured above). Billed as the new Home of American Tennis, the National Campus houses the USTA’s Community Tennis and Player Development operations and features 100 courts built over 64 acres.

Click here to learn more about our campuses, including White Plains, NY, Orlando, Fla., Flushing, NY, and Carson, Calif.

 

1881 – Founding of the U.S. National Lawn Tennis Association. A small group of men from northeastern clubs, where most lawn tennis was played, form an association to promote the standardization of the rules and regulations for lawn tennis throughout the United States. The USNTLA was created at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in Manhattan. Its first headquarters was in the Equitable Building at 120 Broadway, where it remained for 84 years.


1881 – The first U.S. National Singles Championship for men, the precursor to the modern-day US Open, is held at The Casino in Newport, R.I.

 

1887 – The Philadelphia Cricket Club in Pennsylvania hosts the women's singles championships for the first time. Also in 1887, the Orange Tennis Club in Mountain Station, N.J. hosts the men's doubles competition.

 

1917 – Longwood Cricket Club in Boston, Mass. hosts its first U.S. National Championship men's doubles event. It would go on to also host women's doubles and mixed doubles until 1941.

 

1921 – Germantown Cricket Club in Philadelphia, Pa., plays host to the men's singles championship for the first time.


1923 – The USLTA capitalizes a new stadium at the West Side Tennis club in Forest Hills, N.Y. The West Side Tennis Club serves as the primary residence for the U.S. Championships until 1978.

 

1966 – The USTA headquarters move from 120 Broadway in Manhattan, N.Y., to 51 East 42nd St.


1978 – The US Open moves to its new location, under President Slew Hester’s leadership, at Flushing Meadows in Queens, N.Y.

 

1986 – The USTA headquarters move for a second time in its history, to 1212 Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan, N.Y.

 

1993 – On Feb. 1, the USTA headquarters move to its current location at 70 West Red Oak Lane in White Plains, N.Y.

 

1997 – Arthur Ashe Stadium is completed at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows. The stadium is the largest tennis-specific stadium on the world, seating 23,200.


2006 – The US Open changes the name of its site to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in honor of the tennis legend and ambassador, a product of America’s public parks.


2017 – The USTA National Campus at Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla., is unveiled. Billed as the new Home of American Tennis, the National Campus houses the USTA’s Community Tennis and Player Development operations and features 100 courts built over 64 acres.

The USTA was founded as the U.S. National Lawn Tennis Association in 1881, dropping the "N" from its name in 1920 and losing the "L" 55 years later in 1975.

 

1881 – Founding of the U.S. National Lawn Tennis Association (USNLTA). A small group of men from northeastern clubs, where most lawn tennis was played, form an association to promote the standardization of the rules and regulations for lawn tennis throughout the United States.

 

1920 – The USNLTA drops the "N" from its name and becomes the USLTA.

 

1973 – USTA incorporates as a not-for-profit sports association, with the National Educational Foundation permitted to receive tax deductible contributions.

 

1975 – The U.S. Lawn Tennis Association loses its “L” and becomes the USTA.

In his book, The United States Tennis Association: Raising the Game, author Warren F. Kimball takes an in-depth look at the rich and storied history of the USTA and how the organization has helped cultivate and organize tennis in the U.S. and grow the sport over the past 135 years.

 

Kimball traces the USTA’s history from its origins as a group of white men from country clubs throughout the Northeast to its current standing as the largest tennis association in the world; a dynamic and diverse association with women in top leadership positions and an annual revenue of well over $300 million. The story of how tennis is managed by the nation’s largest cadre of volunteers in any sport is one of sports’ best untold stories.

 

The USTA’s work in building the US Open into one of the most prestigious and best-attended sporting events in the world is a major focus of the text, as is the organization’s key role in establishing tennis’ Open Era in 1968 – when professionals began competing with amateurs in Grand Slams – and expanding the game in the U.S. during the tennis boom of the 1970s.

 

Unique among sports governing bodies, the USTA is a mostly volunteer-run organization that, along with a paid professional staff, manages and governs tennis at the local level across the United States and owns and operates several professional events, chief among them, the US Open. The association participates directly in the International Tennis Federation (ITF), and manages U.S. participation in international tennis competitions (Fed Cup and Davis Cup). 

 

With unprecedented access to the private records of the USTA, Kimball tells an engaging and rich history of how tennis has been managed and governed in the U.S. since the inception of the association in 1881. 

 

“Warren Kimball has created as comprehensive a look as you will ever see of the USTA and its innermost workings,” said ESPN commentator and former Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe. “A tremendous accomplishment and great fun for tennis insiders. I loved it”

 

The United States Tennis Association: Raising the Game is available on Amazon and at a bookseller near you.


RELATED

  • Spanning from 1980 through the present, this comprehensive list of USTA wheelchair tennis champions includes trophy-winners at the US Open, the USTA national championships, collegiate nationals and more. Read More
  • Browse through the best of the best in American tennis. Our historical lists feature the Top 10 U.S. men and women based on each year's final rankings, dating back to 1885 for the men and 1913 for the women. Read More

    Sign up for our Newsletter

    Sign up for our Newsletter