This week’s Throwback Thursdays feature pays it forward as we look at the transformation of 12 courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens – one of WAG’s favorite places — into a temporary 350-bed hospital as the hard-hit Big Apple battles the coronavirus and its resulting illness, COVID-19.
The 100,000-square-foot makeshift hospital at the NTC’s Indoor Training Center was expected to see its first patients early this week.
Louis Armstrong Stadium, the second-largest stadium on the grounds behind Arthur Ashe Stadium, is already being used to prepare and distribute up to 25,000 packages of meals every day. Each package consists of two days’ worth of breakfast, lunch and dinner for patients, workers and underprivileged children who take part in the school system’s meals program.
“It’s an incredibly small part, but it’s the least we can do,” said USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center Chief Operating Officer Danny Zausner. “Elmhurst Hospital in Queens is a stone’s throw away from the tennis center. For us to be in the local community where our hands are tied but to support the local community and help take some pressure off of Elmhurst Hospital is a huge thing for us to help out in any way we can.”
“There are two ways of looking at this,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a recent press briefing held at the NTC. “If you want to say the glass is half-empty, you would say these tennis courts symbolize what we’re all going through right now. We’d all like to go back to the times when things were normal and people were out here playing tennis. We all feel that. I feel that. We miss it and it’s sad. But we also know that this crisis will not go on forever. It will be very intense, but thank God, it will be brief.
“When I look here, I see the glass as half-full, which is the fact that everyone is rising to the challenge. Everyone is contributing each in their own way. We have people from organizations all over the city, all over the world, calling literally every single hour offering help. When the folks here at the tennis center heard there was a need, they said yes immediately. … I’m looking forward to the day when this is going to be a place for tennis again. But in the meantime, I’m inspired by the fact that people are stepping up.”
Added de Blasio: “Right here at the Billie Jean King [National Tennis] Center, named after someone who is such a hero to so many of us, I think it’s very fitting, I think Billie Jean would agree, that this place will be a life-saving place.”
Not only is the always inspiring King on board with this, she’s busy motivating us to stay active with #KeepPlaying.
“Sports seasons are suspended or cancelled everywhere due to #COVID19,” she tweeted, “but that doesn’t mean practice at home must come to an end.”