One of the toughest decisions the USTA faced in arranging the US Open in a pandemic was banning Billie Jean King from the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
King, the pioneering tennis legend who had the Flushing Meadows facility named after her in 2006, was not given a credential for the Open. King is 76 but the USTA’s decision stemmed from strictly following the New York state COVID-19 guidelines to stage this event.
“Health and safety protocols required us to reduce our numbers on site to only players, player entourages and essential tournament staff,’’ USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier told The Post. “Nothing in the protocols was specific to Billie.”
King, who’s had movies made about her life, has attended the US Open in some capacity annually since 1959.
“You know it’s a very tough year when Billie Jean King is not joining us at the US Open,’’ Widmaier said. “We needed to abide by the health and safety protocols, no matter how strict they may have seemed. Billie may not have been here in person, but we all carried her spirit with us. I can’t tell you how many times we channeled her exhortation of ‘Champions Adjust’ when we were planning for this event in an environment that seemed to shift on us on a daily basis.’’
King is an ambassador to the USTA of late and she’s been doing work remotely to help out. Her spokesman, Tip Nunn, said she didn’t argue the call.
“She’s still making the most of her US Open experience,’’ Nunn said. “Once the USTA made the decision, she adapted and kept moving.’’