The USTA’s ICON Awards, this year celebrating its fourth anniversary, has become one of the signature events at the US Open, leveraging the international stage of one of America’s greatest sports and entertainment spectaculars to recognize individual and institutional contributions in diversity and inclusion. As the national governing body for tennis, the USTA is wholeheartedly committed to the principles of fairness and equality. In all that we do, from supporting tennis programs that make the sport more accessible in local communities to staging the crown jewel of the professional game—the US Open—we are dedicated to growing our sport and making it look like America.
Those whom we honor with the USTA’s ICON Awards are similarly committed to the goal of ensuring a level playing field for all. Our award recipients are chosen from a variety of fields, but they share a common trait: Each is a proven leader in recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion in building success. They have opened doors for others to achieve and in doing so, they have achieved greatness in their own right. On and off the field of play, each has defined themselves as a true champion.
This year’s honorees, former University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summit, the late wheelchair tennis pioneer Randy Snow and the late Lee Hamilton, former USTA Executive Director and the founder of the USTA’s Diversity and Inclusion department each personify heart, courage and character. Each became a leader by encouraging others to find the leader in themselves. Each set a brilliant example that illuminated a world of possibility for those whose lives they touched. Each is indeed an icon.
The goal of diversity and inclusion is a grand goal, and as is the case with the pursuit of all grand goals, it is an effort which requires strong leaders to show the way. The outstanding individuals that we honor at this year’s ICON Awards are just such leaders and because of them, we—as a sport and as a society—have made some very real progress toward the grand goal that we all share.
USTA Chairman of the Board and President