Last night, Saturday, September 05, 2009, the USTA honored the legacy of Richard "Pancho" Gonzales at the U.S. Open, on the 60th anniversary of his second U.S. Open championship.
The self-taught superstar, who learned to play tennis with a 50-cent racket on the courts of Los Angeles, is seen by many as one of the most purely talented players ever to play the sport of tennis. His ferocious serve-and-volley style showcased a remarkable athleticism and unrelenting will to win.
In the 1950s, he held No. 1 rank in the world for an unequaled 8 years. He is the only player to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame while still an active player. Arthur Ashe once called Pancho his "only idol." Gonzales is widely credited with helping to break down barriers in tennis and sports to inner city youth, Latinos and minorities.
Well done, Pancho!
PS: Pancho Gonzales was the subject of an excellent sixty minute documentary on Spike TV, with interviews of Pancho and many relevant stars and figures of his day. The DVD of this documentary presents one of the best reviews of Pancho's top-ranked career and extraordinary social impact, and is highly recommended. It is available through Higher Ground Entertainment.
Here is the 6 minute trailer on You Tube:
Pancho Gonzales: Warrior of the Court