As summer begins to wind down each year, the US Open is a staple on a crowded sports calendar. Over the past 25 years, the hard-court major has gone through several expansions and modernizations to meet growing demand and expectations. All of that might not have been possible without David Dinkins, the first Black mayor of New York City.
On Monday evening, Dinkins passed away at age 93 at his home in Manhattan's Upper East Side, just six weeks after his wife Joyce died at age 89. Back in 1993, before his term in office ended, Dinkins signed a 99-year lease with the USTA National Tennis Center, ensuring that the US Open would remain an integral part of his city's programming and economy. One component to sealing the deal was getting the Federal Aviation Administration to divert air traffic into nearby LaGuardia Airport during the tournament. Michael Bloomberg, whose mayoralty ran from 2002-2013, would later state this was "the only good athletic sports stadium deal, not just in New York but in the country."
While the negotiation with USTA was one of the final acts Dinkins executed, it certainly wasn't out of left field. Dinkins attended a tournament at a Black country club each summer during his youth and was later inspired by Arthur Ashe, a champion he would become close friends with. After shifting from politics to a professorship at Columbia University, Dinkins backed the naming of the US Open's newest main court to honor Ashe, served on the USTA's Board of Directors and was a key supporter of the National Junior Tennis & Learning network (NJTL).
And of course, Dinkins was a regular fixture at the home of the biggest tennis tournament in the U.S., one he protected for his beloved city. In honor of that, we celebrate Dinkins with five photos from his time at Flushing Meadows.
Dinkins joined Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, Queens Borough president Claire Shulman, John McEnroe and USTA president Harry Marmion at the Arthur Ashe Stadium dedication in 1997.
In 2002, Dinkins teamed up with three-time Roland Garros champion Gustavo Kuerten at an exhibition promoting the upcoming US Open.
A thumbs up, indeed. Dinkins helped honor trailblazer Althea Gibson at the 2004 US Open.
Dinkins and nine-time major singles winner Monica Seles, who claimed two of her Slams in New York, watched James Blake edge Fabrice Santoro in five sets at the 2007 US Open.
McEnroe, Dinkins, USTA president Katrina Adams, Queens Borough president Melinda Katz and USTA executive director Gordon Smith cut the ribbon at the Louis Armstrong Stadium dedication ceremony in 2018.