From the earliest days, nations have experienced the struggle of war in an effort to assert their beliefs. For more than a century, countries have prided themselves on their most talented athletes and champions. As a result, the trials of war and the triumphs of sport have intersected on and off the playing field. Baseball, football, golf, and basketball have, at some point, been intertwined with the war effort. As one of the world's most global sports, tennis is certainly no exception. At the upcoming U.S. Open, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum will present "Serving Their Countries: Tennis and War", a special exhibition showcasing the sometimes tragic, often inspiring, and always heroic and selfless stories of how the tennis community has shown a commitment to a free and safe world in the face of conflict—and continues to do so today.
In addition, the gallery will host a new exhibition of photos of Arthur Ashe, shot and compiled by his wife, renowned photographer Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum Gallery at the U.S. Open will be open daily, Aug. 29 - Sept. 11, and admission is complimentary for guests attending the U.S. Open. New this year, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum Gallery at the U.S. Open is located in the Chase Center, with the U.S. Open Bookstore.
"The rich history of tennis extends far beyond the great moments of dramatic match points and Grand Slam victories. The involvement of tennis professionals in the war effort is one important example of this," said Mark L. Stenning, chief executive officer of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. "I think tennis fans and those interested in history in general will really enjoy seeing this exhibit and learning more about what role some of the heroes of our sport have played in war efforts worldwide. In addition, we are pleased to work with Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe on a one-of-a-kind, truly outstanding photo exhibit showcasing one of the greatest heroes of tennis, Arthur Ashe."
Focusing on the Spanish-American War through present-day "Serving Their Countries: Tennis and War" features historic photos and interesting stories of great tennis champions, who were also dedicated veterans and patriots. Some of these legends halted their once promising careers, and some, sadly, made the ultimate sacrifice. Among those featured are Jack Kramer, Tony Trabert, Bobby Riggs and Arthur Ashe. Female players who contributed to the effort are highlighted in the exhibit, including Alice Marble, who served as co-chair of the Physical Fitness Program for the Office of Civilian Defense under President Franklin Roosevelt, and Helen Hull Jacobs, a 10-time Grand Slam tournament champion in the 1930s who went on to serve as a commander in U.S. Navy intelligence during World War II.
The exhibit also looks at the generosity of the tennis community, showcasing how players have supported the war effort by participating in morale boosting exhibition matches and charity events, such as modern stars like Nick Bollettieri and Anna Kournikova, who traveled to the Middle East for a USO tour in 2009.
Through many times of conflict, tennis players have used the game as a platform to spread messages of political beliefs on behalf of their country and compatriots at home. The world has seen this recently with 2010 U.S. Open Doubles finalists Rohan Bopanna of India and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan, who are featured in the exhibit, and who often wear t-shirts and track suits that say "Stop War, Start Tennis."
Lastly, the exhibit explores the stories of tennis stars who represented their countries in important Davis Cup matches and Olympic games during pivotal times in world history. Highlighted moments in history include the United States' victory in the 1946 Davis Cup-- it was the first after the war and the American team was comprised entirely of World War II veterans, Jack Kramer, Gardnar Mulloy, Ted Schroeder and Frank Parker. Also featured is the dramatic 1937 Davis Cup final when America's Don Budge triumphed over Germany's Baron Gottfried von Gramm, and at which von Cramm allegedly received a "good luck" phone call from Adolf Hitler right before the match.
In addition to "Serving Their Countries: Tennis and War," the International Tennis Hall of Fame is pleased to present "Arthur Ashe: Out of the Shadow," a photo exhibition of works by renowned photographer Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe. Revered for his skills as a tennis player as much as for his commitment to the pursuit of human rights, Arthur Ashe remains a testament to the potential power of sports as a platform for change. Photographed by Moutoussamy-Ashe, Arthur's wife of 17 years, this exhibition invites the viewer into Arthur's life on and off the court, revealing a holistic and uniquely intimate portrait of an icon.