Aug. 28, 2012
FLUSHING, N.Y. - The United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced Tuesday that former University of Tennessee Head Women's Basketball Coach Pat Summitt will be the recipient of the Billie Jean King Legacy Award, which honors individuals whose outstanding courage and contributions have helped to change the global cultural landscape.
At its 2012 USTA ICON Awards, the association also will honor posthumously 2012 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee and wheelchair tennis pioneer Randy Snow and former USTA CEO and pioneer of the Diversity and Inclusion Department at the USTA, the late Lee Hamilton.
The ICON Awards celebrate individual and institutional accomplishments and commitments to diversity and inclusion; as well as emphasize the USTA's commitment to fairness and equality. The Awards reception and presentations will be held September 4 in the Hospitality Pavilion of the Chase Center at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York.
"The USTA is proud to celebrate these individuals who serve as champions of diversity and inclusion," said Gordon Smith, USTA Chief Executive Officer. "Just as the USTA is committed to growing the game of tennis and making it look like America, this year's honorees represent different aspects of how an emphasis on diversity and inclusion can make a real difference in our society."
Summit, Snow and Hamilton join a list of accomplished individuals who have been recognized through the years by the USTA's ICON Awards for commitment to removing barriers and creating opportunities for others. Former ICON Award winners include the late Arthur Ashe and his co-founders of the National Junior Tennis and Learning Network, Charlie Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder, as well as baseball Hall-of-Famer Hank Aaron, and former Phoenix Suns' President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Welts. Other philanthropic and corporate recipients include the Sportsmen's Tennis and Enrichment Center of Boston, Mass., the oldest African-American owned tennis facility in the U.S., and AT&T Mobility's Chief Executive Officer Ralph de le Vega.
"I am honored and humbled to be recognized by the USTA at this year's ICON Awards," said Summitt. "It's a special honor to be acknowledged for my beliefs in diversity and equality and I am proud to be a part of the USTA's commitment to the same. On the 40th anniversary of Title IX, I am especially honored to receive the Billie Jean King Legacy Award. Not only is Billie a respected friend and colleague, she's also a true pioneer. Her efforts on behalf of equality for all have allowed me to coach and mentor some of the world's greatest female athletes, and help numerous women attend college to become great leaders and citizens."
Summitt is the all-time leader in wins among coaches in NCAA history. She spent nearly four decades at the University of Tennessee working tirelessly to bring women's basketball to the forefront in college athletics and, by example, lift up women in athletics. Summit compiled a 1,098-208 record during 38 seasons and won an unparalleled eight national championships. She led the Lady Vols to the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Championship and SEC Tournament title 16 times each, and was named SEC Coach of the Year eight times and NCAA Coach of the Year in seven seasons. Summitt was awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award during the 2012 ESPYs.
Snow was a champion wheelchair tennis player, who believed that tennis transcended physical ability, committing himself to promoting tennis to all communities. In addition to being an influential leader in developing the sport of wheelchair tennis and a tireless advocate for improving the quality of life for people with disabilities, Snow is only the second wheelchair tennis player in history to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Snow passed away on November 19, 2009, at the age of 50, while volunteering at a wheelchair tennis camp in El Salvador.
Hamilton was a pioneer of diversity and inclusion in tennis who worked tirelessly to help make tennis more inclusive and accessible to all people. He played a leading role in the growth of the game and the health and vitality of the USTA. Under his direction as USTA Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, the USTA became one of the first organizations in the sports industry to enact a diversity plan, establish a Diversity and Inclusion Department, and make multicultural participation a top strategic business priority. A gifted tennis player, Hamilton was nationally ranked in various age groups into his 70s. He passed away on June 16, 2012, at the age of 75.
This year's ICON Awards sponsor is Aetna. As part of its sponsorship, Aetna provides three-year schools tennis grants to schools that serve predominantly diverse populations. Administered through USTA Serves, these grants help introduce tennis, health, education and nutrition components in one after-school elementary program located in each of the USTA's 17 Sections. In turn, the USTA provides equipment and training for school leaders to teach tennis to participating youngsters. Now in the second year of a three year agreement, Aetna's sponsorship will bring tennis and wellness education to up fifty one schools over a nine year span.