Tennis legend Billie Jean King presented New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg with a key to the National Tennis Center that bears her name, and Grammy Award-winning musician Lenny Kravitz rocked a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium on a memorable Opening Night at the 2013 US Open.
Fireworks brought Kravitz to the stage to rotating lights scattered through the seats of the packed crowd after a special presentation commemorated important tennis anniversaries being celebrated in 2013.
After USTA Chairman and CEO Dave Haggerty introduced Mayor Bloomberg, King came out with a special present for the mayor, who is leaving office this fall, as a thank you for his support for the US Open throughout the years: a key to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
“I want to thank you so much for your loyalty,” King said. “Here’s the key to our facility. Mi casa es su casa.”
Mayor Bloomberg reminded the crowd this was not just a celebration of Opening Night at the 2013 US Open but a time to remember a few important events. Saying “Tonight is 40, 40, 40, 70,” referring to the 40th anniversary of King founding the WTA Tour, 40 years of equal prize money for men and women at the US Open and 40 years since King defeated Bobby Riggs in the famous Battle of the Sexes. And in 2013, it marks 70 years since King was born.
Casting Call winner Frenie Acoba, 11, capped off the ceremony by singing the National Anthem, and then another round of fireworks kicked off time to start play, with defending US Open champion Serena Williams and five-time US Open champion Roger Federer set to bring the action on court for the evening.
“This is where it really happens, the US Open,” Bloomberg said.