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U.S. Open: A legacy launches the stars

The U.S. Open kicks off today and I couldn't be more excited. The final Grand Slam tournament of the year is my favorite major championship for a variety of reasons: the crowd is knowledgeable and passionate, particularly at the night matches; it's held in New York, my home town and a city with energy like no other; and, of course, Gabriela Sabatini won her only Slam title here 17 (damn!) years ago.

Another reason to love this tournament is that its main stadium hasn't been sold out to corporate sponsorship. It is named in honor of tennis's greatest humanitarian, Arthur Ashe. Moreover, tonight's evening session will feature a special tribute to tennis pioneer Althea Gibson, the first African American woman to win the French Open, Wimbledon, and US Championships. Afterwards, on the 50th anniversary of Gibson's groundbreaking title run at the U.S. National Championships, Venus and Serena Williams will play their first round singles matches back-to-back on the stadium court. The visual illustration of how Gibson's historic win connects through time to the Williams sisters, the two biggest stars in the game today, will be something special and I envy anyone with a ticket for tonight's matches.

Speaking of lucky ticket holders, I'm sure that Althea and Arthur have a front row seat in heaven for this one! --Wyman Meers