Probably this is the grandest U.S. Open ever. This year’s Open is special as it marks the 40th Anniversary of the tournament and the first tournament of the Open Era.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ushered in this year’s tournament by addressing the crowd, “On behalf of the city of New York, welcome to the one and only US Open."
The host of the evening's festivities was Oscar winning actor Forrest Whitaker, who spoke about the history of the tournament.
Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, left, and her daughter, Camera, walk into Arthur Ashe Stadium, the facility named for her late husband, Arthur Ashe, during opening ceremonies at the U.S. Open tennis tournament.
In honor of that special moment in tennis history, Whitaker introduced a procession of 25 past champions of the tournament including Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe and her daughter Camera Ashe as well as Virginia Wade, the first women’s singles US Open champion.
Former U.S. Open champions Rod Laver, left, and Virginia Wade greet each other during opening ceremonies.
The Champions entered the stadium in chronological order of when they won their titles. Rod Laver, the only man to complete a Grand Slam in the history of tennis followed Wade. Billie Jean King, the winner of the US Open in 1971, 1972 and 1974, the winner of 39 Grand Slams and revolutionary figure for women’s sports entered Arthur Ashe Stadium at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to rousing cheers from the crowd.
Chris Evert and John McEnroe were also hometown favorites as they took the stage. Martina Navratilova, the winner of 59 career slams, was present as was Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander and Monica Seles.
Champions still in the game – Lindsay Davenport, Marat Safin, Serena and Venus Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer, the only man to win four consecutive US Open titles – were all introduced to the fans at Arthur Ashe.
The fans were treated to the music of Earth Wind and Fire. Just as the ceremony closed, red, white and blue fireworks erupted atop the stadium.
(Images and text via Yahoo! Sports, U.S. Open website)