|The legendary Arthur Ashe; 1 of 2 who broke the racial color barrier in tennis history at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium|
October 6, 2010
Dear Chairman Tierney & Landmarks Preservation Commission Staff,
I am writing entreating you to consider voting to grant landmark status to the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, courts, interiors, and the Clubhouse of the West Side Tennis Club. The venue holds claim to a storied history as the location of the US Open from 1915 until 1977: all the champions of the sport throughout that time period, including my late husband Arthur Ashe, played on those courts. Setting aside its place in tennis history, Forest Hills has hosted concerts and events for some of the most prominent and legendary figures in pop culture. It is certainly an important part of cultural history.
However, the reason why it is so important to preserve the stadium is not simply that all the greats have played there, but because it represents the progress and achievements of tennis, and furthermore, of the last American century. When Althea Gibson won on center court in 1957 or when Arthur won his first Grand Slam title there in 1968, barriers were broken, moving the sport of tennis forward. Forest Hills stands as a reminder and the physical embodiment of that fact. Additionally, it was also here that in 1968 the first "open" US championships were held, signifying tennis' move to become a less stratified and more democratic sport. Both of these episodes - breaking the color barrier and the democratization of tennis - are tremendous achievements in tennis history. Furthermore, these accomplishments are representative of the shifts in American society during the 20th century. Forest Hills stands as a signifier for the progress of tennis and America.
It is my sincere hope that you will consider my remarks and what Forest Hills means, beyond being bricks and mortar. It truly is a monument to hope and history, for myself, many Americans, and countless others across the world. Thank you so much for your time.