The United States National Tennis Association (USTA) admitted this Friday that one of the most difficult decisions made during the preparation of the US Open was Denying the Flushing Meadows slopes credential to the legendary Billie Jean King.
The pioneering legend of American and world women's tennis, who has been named after the National Tennis Center since 2006, was excluded from the credentials that gave access to the enclosure due to the strict follow safety guidelines established by the State of New York in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Health and safety protocols forced us to reduce our number on the site to just players, player entourages and essential tournament personnel.”USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier told the local New York Post newspaper.
“Nothing in the protocols allowed Billie (King) to have access to the venue,” he said.
King's absence from the US Open is the first since 1959, when he began competing.
“You know it's a very difficult year when Billie Jean King doesn't join us at the US Open,” Widmaier admitted.
“We needed to comply with health and safety protocols, no matter how strict they might seem. Billie may not have been here in person, but we all carry her spirit with us in the way we have faced the organization,” he said.
King, 76, has been an ambassador for the USTA as of late and has been working remotely to help.
His spokesman, Tip Nunn, said that he did not discuss the decision made by the Open organization and that on the contrary, he adapted and maintained his rhythm of collaboration and help.