WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The USTA Foundation, the national charitable organization of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), announced that it has appointed former world No. 4 James Blake as chairman of the Foundation’s board of directors. In his new role, Blake will serve as the Foundation’s spokesperson and ambassador to promote the mission and impact of its national outreach efforts.
Blake will help promote the Foundation’s mission of providing tennis and education opportunities to under-resourced youth and individuals with disabilities. He succeeds former pro and longtime tennis journalist and advocate Mary Carillo, who served as chairwoman from 2009 to 2014.
“I’m honored to have been selected as the chairman of the USTA Foundation board of directors. I admire the Foundation’s pursuit to support the combination of tennis and education and the impact it has on so many youth around the country,” said Blake. “I grew up playing tennis at a young age and participated in a National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) program. It was there that I learned the value and influence tennis can add to my life while being encouraged to stay academically focused. It’s through the support of the USTA Foundation where students today are given the same opportunities. And I’m proud to be a part of this outstanding mission to serving up dreams.”
Blake’s professional career spanned 14 years, in which he won 10 ATP singles titles, seven doubles titles and a Davis Cup Championship. He also reached the semifinals of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and climbed to a career-best No. 4 in the world, ranking as the top American during that time. Blake joined the U.S. Davis Cup team in 2001 – becoming the third African-American to play Davis Cup for the U.S., following in the footsteps of Arthur Ashe and MaliVai Washington. He teamed with Andy Roddick, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan to capture a record-extending 32nd Davis Cup championship title for the U.S. in 2007.
Blake attended Harvard University, where he became the No.1 player in the nation and acquired numerous accolades including ITA All-American, first team All Eastern Intercollegiate Tennis Association (EITA) honors and EITA/Ivy Rookie of the Year, to name a few. Blake turned pro in 1999, following his sophomore year with the Crimson. Blake began playing tennis at the age of 5, where he attended the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program (HJTEP), an NJTL program in New York City supported by the USTA Foundation. It was there where he heard Arthur Ashe speak to a group of kids that inspired him to pursue the sport of tennis.
In 2007, Blake co-wrote a New York Times best-selling autobiography, “Breaking Back.” The following year he was honored with the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year Award. Blake officially retired from professional tennis at the 2013 US Open.
“The board of directors of the USTA Foundation proudly welcomes James as our new chairman and ambassador for our important mission of serving under-resourced youth and those in need through tennis and education,” said Thomas Chen, president of the USTA Foundation board of directors. “We have admired his success and reputation as a professional tennis player and are pleased that he shares our core beliefs in giving back through the sport of tennis. We are honored to have him join the Foundation and know he will continue the great work and leadership we enjoyed by our outgoing chairwoman, Mary Carillo.”
A Yonkers, N.Y., native, Blake created the Thomas Blake Sr. Memorial Cancer Research Fund at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in 2004. He runs an annual celebrity tennis and entertainment event, Serving for a Cure, to raise funds for cancer research and prevention. He lives in Connecticut with his wife Emily and daughters Riley and Emma.