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ANNNOUNCER ANDY TAYLOR CELEBRATES 22-YEARS IN ARTHUR ASHE STADIUM
With his individual style and delivery, Andy writes and narrates every player’s introduction – celebrating their career accomplishments, providing context for fans before each match. As a voice talent, he also narrates video content and special announcements broadcast across the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. For over twenty years, his distinctive sound and energy has helped drive and enhance the fan experience — Informing. Entertaining. Celebrating the sport and its colorful cast of characters.
In addition to his long-standing role in New York, Taylor has also emceed other global events including the Olympic Games, Qatar ExxonMobil Open, Qatar Total Open, PSA Men’s World Championship, Qatar Classic Squash Championship and the World Padel Championship.
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US OPEN | OPEN ERA WOMEN’S SINGLES CHAMPIONS
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WHEN YOU SEE THE WRITING ON THE WALL | By Andy Taylor “Voice of the US Open”
Dear Arthur Ashe Stadium,
I recently learned that this may be our last fortnight together. Not my choice, but it’s alright.
Listen, if I had my way, I’d stand behind your microphone forever. Some of my most memorable professional experiences have been a direct result of the time we spent together. But this is life. We don’t always get what we think we want. Instead, we get what we need, preparing us for what’s next.
Either way – for me, it’s important that you know how deeply I value the moments we’ve shared.
IT HAS BEEN AN HONOR.
Everything you represent, your namesake, your evolution, the raccoons, the friendships, each indelible moment immortalized in bronze by your front gates — you’ve allowed my voice to drift through the exciting turbulence of your nuanced, uniquely “New York” atmosphere for nearly a quarter of my life.
And for that, I am beyond grateful.
You were just five years old when you first welcomed me up in the saddle, and it has been a privilege to hug your neck on 22 distinctively epic thrill rides.
WHO CAN FORGET OUR FIRST FORTNIGHT?
2002. Serena’s second US Open title. Her third successive Major victory – all triumphs over sister Venus, as the two ushered-in a new era for sports entertainment beyond the game itself. A day later, Pete’s 14th and final Grand Slam title. A fitting end to a storied career, defeating long-time rival Andre Agassi in the Final.
Back then, you embraced the USTA’s long-term vision to electrify the game’s presentation, and enthusiastically welcomed a small-town storyteller to bring “words on a page” to life!
Today, with each new technological advancement, you continue to innovate and inspire. It’s humbling to know I played a small role in your evolution.
Thank you Arlen for believing in me. Thank you Michael and Wid for tolerating that choice for over 20-years.
AND OH, HOW FAR WE’VE COME.
To say the past two decades has been an “technological hurricane” completely understates the power and enormity of our collective transformation.
Physically, you’ve gained a retractable roof! Not to mention, nearly every one of your flat surfaces is now covered with video walls featuring graphics, scorelines, highlights, updates, social feeds, sponsorships… unrelenting information. The fact is — in this new era, data and statistics completely outweigh storytelling and the spoken word.
Endless messaging. Endless scrolling.
At the human level, we have been digitized as well. In 2002, we were analog mammals adjusting to Blackberries, razor thin flip phones, digital photos and email. Our right arm hailed the cab that took us to Queens. Glossy paper tickets got us through your gates. Cash kept us fed and hydrated. 21 years later, we do all of the above (and more) with the cellphone in our pocket.
Again. Endless messaging. Endless scrolling.
ADVANCEMENTS GREATER THAN TECHNOGY’S RISE.
While this rapid explosion of technological growth and connectivity has its negative side effects – endless messaging, endless scrolling – the fact is, it has also enriched and advanced the human experience in so many ways. Most notably, it has amplified social justice crusades that have been shouted-down for generations – something incredibly important to those of us closely linked to this sport; something instinctive to your namesake and revered colleague Billie Jean King.
THE CRUSADE FOR GENDER EQUITY.
In fact it was 50-years-ago (1973), thanks to Billie Jean King’s outspoken courage, that the US Open became the first Grand Slam tournament to offer equal prize money to men and women.
You see, the year prior – when she captured her third US Open title at Forest Hills – Billie pocketed $15,000 as the women’s champion. Meanwhile Ilie Nastase, the men’s champion, took home $25,000. After the tournament, Billie hinted that women would likely boycott the 1973 US Open if nothing changed, which set in motion an actual, realized advancement in gender equity.
But Billie didn’t stop there. Awareness wasn’t enough.
She set-out to prove the absurdity of gender inequity — through action.
ENTER 1973’S BATTLE OF THE SEXES
That year, master self-promoter and perennial blowhard Bobby Riggs hijacked the debate. A former World #1 in the 1940’s, Riggs announced to the world that even though he was 55-years-old, he could still easily defeat the top female talents in the sport. Simply put, Bobby was dead-set to prove that women were inferior to men.
On Mother’s Day, in front of a nationally televised audience, he defeated 30-year-old Margaret Court – who had recently returned to the sport after a year of maternity leave. In fact, she won only three games during the match. It quickly became known as the “Mother’s Day Massacre.”
But then – shortly after the now equitable US Open – Billie accepted Bobby’s challenge. In the notorious “Battle of the Sexes,” after being down a break in the first set, Billie Jean King came back and dominated Bobby Riggs. She won 6-4, 6-3, 6-3! Poetic. Poignant. 90-million people watched worldwide. Over 30-thousand fans filled the Houston Astrodome. It was an absolute spectacle, and profoundly important.
In Billie’s words: “I thought it would set us back 50 years if I didn’t win that match. It would ruin the women’s tour and affect all women’s self-esteem.”
IMPORTANT LESSON THAT RESONATES TODAY: AWARENESS IS NEVER ENOUGH.
As I mentioned earlier, two decades of technological innovation has completely transformed us both – and one of the benefits of this transformation has been the amplification of social justice crusades. But amplification only equals awareness. For society to truly change, action is required.
Arthur Ashe, your namesake, understood this better than anyone. He didn’t just “speak out” against apartheid in South Africa, or racism, or inner city crime, or the United States’ unjust treatment of Haitian refugees. He organized. Marched. Owned his narrative — inserting himself into the story of the oppressed, understanding how his popularity and compassionate storytelling could inspire and compel change.
Billie Jean King is no different. While her threat to boycott the 1973 US Open called attention to gender inequity, creating actual change – she knew it wasn’t enough. She saddled the weight of actively proving gender inequity’s baselessness by accepting Riggs’ challenge.
And that is an important lesson for today’s armchair, anonymous crusaders convinced that posts, thumbs, hearts, shares and reshares are adequate steps to spark change. They’re not. Sure, issues “trend” thanks to social media’s turbocharging of message amplification, but without action – nothing changes.
Which brings me to the final point of this “novella” of a potential farewell. This year, there will be action at the 2023 US Open. And I’m excited to take a backseat to it.
IN 2023, THE USTA WILL FINALLY SHATTER A GLASS CEILING.
Let me start by saying, I am tremendously proud to have spent 21-years of my professional life connected to the USTA because this is an organization committed to inclusion and progress. The 50th anniversary celebration of equal prize money is prime proof of that.
But another related groundbreaking milestone will happen this August – something you might miss amid the ceremonial celebration of Billie Jean King’s enduring impact. For me, this is also a remarkable moment worth recognizing.
This year, for the first time, a female voice will be featured in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Fittingly, it is the voice of someone who has worked tirelessly to creatively tell the stories of these athletes, focused on revealing the unique dynamics of each individual character.
BLAIR HENLEY. CREATIVE CRUSADER MAKING HISTORY (HERSTORY)
Blair Henley bleeds tennis. I deeply admire her tennis pedigree and relentless passion to connect each player’s story with fans. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you know Blair a hell of lot better than you know me.
While my career path has always steered towards the field of voice work (which happens to include tennis) – Blair has relentlessly networked, pursuing opportunities specific to the sport she loves. Regardless of her role, in the endless list of events and organizations for which she’s worked, Blair has always been a rock star delivering beyond expectation. Boundless creativity, unwavering work ethic, and genuine empathy have paved Blair’s path to success.
I couldn’t be more excited that SHE is the one who will achieve this milestone.
ONE LAST INSPIRING FORTNIGHT.
The truth is, I’m just a straight, white, married guy. Unless I cure cancer, there is no way I will ever be an inspiration to anyone. By physically being what I am – to the rest of the world I will always only wear a badge of “privilege.” Not a complaint. I understand how fortunate that makes me.
But this job — in your stadium (the sport’s biggest stage) — gives me the opportunity to transcend that reality by telling the stories of those who do inspire. Stories of accomplishment, achievement, overcoming odds, challenging injustice, becoming a champion.
And to have had the chance to do this for 21 consecutive years? 22 US Opens? That’s pretty unreal. I’m so grateful. Selfishly, I hope I get the chance to continue telling these stories. But if not, it’s okay…
Because it’s been one hell of a ride.
Thank you Arthur Ashe Stadium.