Tennis mourns loss of ally, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins

Former New York City mayor David Dinkins speaks during a tribute to tennis pioneer Althea Gibson at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Flushing Meadows, New York
REUTERS/Shaun Best

The death of former New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins on Nov. 23 at the age of 93 hit the American tennis community especially hard as it lost one of its ambassadors.

Dinkins, the 106th mayor of the city from 1990 to 1993, loved the game, played it well into his 80s, and served on the board of the United States Tennis Association for 12 years.

“We will always remember our friend for his passion, integrity, and commitment to using our sport to better the lives of others,” USTA Chairman of the Board Patrick Galbraith said in a statement Tuesday. “We are better — as an Association, as a sport and as people — because of him. That will always be a part of his great legacy. We all will miss our friend, but we will move forward committed to preserving his legacy and continuing his good work.”

Dinkins will best be remembered for being the first black mayor of New York City, but he is also responsible for moving the U.S. Open — one of four annual major championships in tennis — from Forest Hills to a more accessible location in Queens.

While in office, he also secured a 99-year lease for the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, ensuring that the Grand Slam event would not be leaving Flushing anytime soon. He also signed legislation to expand the National Tennis Center, a reason why it is the expansive, state-of-the-art complex that it is today.

”Mayor Dinkins was the consummate professional and gentleman,” USTA president Katrina Adams — the first Black person to lead the organization — said. “Tennis was his life next to his family and politics. He always saw the good in others and helping all along the way he acknowledged all by greeting them as ‘Buddy’ to make each feel recognized.”

“David taught me what being a top board member meant and I was so proud to follow his footsteps along the way as the first Black to lead the USTA as CEO, president and chairman. It meant the world to him to see that his protégé and second daughter had the leadership skills that he saw in me several years before.”

In 2008, the area outside of the National Tennis Center’s East Gate was renamed in his honor as the “David Dinkins Circle.”

This story first appeared on amny.com.