Ashe ’68 at the 2018 US Open
The Ashe ’68 Photo Exhibit and Virtual Reality Experience were recently exhibited on-site at the 2018 US Open, at Flushing Meadows, NY, in partnership with the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
The 2018 US Open was the 50th Anniversary of Arthur Ashe’s historic win and the project was a centerpiece of the USTA’s festivities. This exhibition made possible by a generous grant from Rolex. Special thanks to Katrina Adams and her team at the USTA.
Additional support greatly appreciated from the Foundation for Global Sports Development, Thomas Chewning and Jonathan Foster.
We had a tremendously successful run at the Open. The outdoor photo exhibit was viewed by several hundred thousand people. The indoor exhibition and Virtual Reality piece was viewed by 3000-5000 people per day. Reactions were simply tremendous. Some folks cried, some relived memories and shared impressions about Arthur, and others learned about him for the very first time. It was a very fitting tribute to Arthur for the 50th anniversary.
Here are a few anecdotes from our colleague Brad Lichtenstein, the Ashe 68 VR Director.
A tennis coach came through the exhibit. After watching the VR I spotted him by the podium weeping. I asked him what impacted him but he was too choked up and, with an apology, left our space. I decided to go find him and let him know that I was the maker of the VR film. I found him in the courtyard. When I introduced myself as the filmmaker he embraced me. After he let go he told me that the film meant so much to him because he's fought hard to recruit and coach black girls for his team (a top-10 Division 1 program). After years of just one or none, he finally has 4 on the team and his inspiration, always, was Arthur Ashe. He has his portrait above his desk and he knew him a little. He then told me that if Arthur were alive he would have loved the film.
Other moments: the woman from Haiti who said she wanted to go on the road with the film. The woman from a fortune 500 company who said she wanted to bring the film to her company's diversity and inclusion training. The young black woman (maybe 14) who said she always thought Arthur Ashe was a rich white guy who got his name on the stadium for donating money.
So many but these are the stories I've been telling.