He studies tennis, so he would come in and watch someone play, and he would figure out what was wrong with his serve or whatever. He noticed these little things that only he could point out. So I wanted to name the tennis center after him. I had his friends explain to him, people are slowly forgetting who you are, so this facility should be named after you.
Mr. Savitt, you made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Open in 1951, which gave you lifetime perks, including being able to access the locker room in Flushing Meadows. What are your favorite memories from the tournament?
BS: My dad used to go every day and every night for two weeks. It’s harder for him to get around now, but we went last year and had a great day, and we will go again this year.
When the tournament was at Forest Hills, it was much smaller, and everyone was in suits and jackets. We would talk to the players. They didn’t have the entourages, all those coaches and trainers, so you had access to them.
For most of his life at Forest Hills or Flushing Meadows, he couldn’t walk five feet without bumping into someone who was a friend or someone who knew him when he was playing competitively.
Our box is right behind the court, so when my dad knew all the guys playing he would actually be coaching them even though you weren’t allowed to. He would encourage them when they got down, or if he saw their opponent had a weak backhand he would say, “Get on the backhand.”
BG: At the U.S. Open, back in the day, all the tennis people would know Dick. They would call him Mr. Savitt, even Arthur Ashe. It’s a little different now, but I think he prefers not to be known. He was always very serious about watching tennis, and he didn’t want to talk too much. I remember Alan King, the comedian, had a box next to Dick’s, and when Alan was waving to the crowds, Dick would get mad and say: “Sit down. Sit Down. This is about the tennis.”