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NEW YORK -- Its late at night and the National Tennis Center is empty and still, the pale moonlight reflecting off the new fabric roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium, the venue that eclipsed me as the centerpiece of the US Open. Raekwon McMillan Dolphins Jersey . It makes me feel older than my 52 years, but I wont be feeling overshadowed much longer.Sometime next week, the first wrecking ball will kiss one of my flanks, shaking me down to my steel foundation, as my demolition begins. Soon theyll cart me away in pieces to become landfill somewhere. At least Ill still be useful.You might wonder why Im writing this letter. I could say a lot of fancy things about the importance of the historical record, or about legacy. Thats certainly a part of it. Legions of people who attend the US Open now probably never experienced me in my prime, before Ashe Stadium was built. We Americans have a knack for burying and forgetting our past, always moving on. Im scared. Im afraid Ill be forgotten.I may not be the most iconic tennis court in the world; I never was, even before I was superseded by Ashe. That honor belongs to Centre Court at Wimbledon. I never offered the intimacy of the Bullring at Roland Garros, the grandiosity of the Foro Italico, or the perfect sight lines of Rod Laver Arena.Ive only been the most important tennis court in the world. It would make my gradual fall and demise easier to accept if I knew I will be remembered as such.Fittingly, I wasnt born to the manor. I was originally the Singer Bowl, part of the 1964 New York Worlds Fair. Left to molder after that historic gathering left town, I was discovered in 1976 by a visionary USTA president from Mississippi named Slew Hester. He was pondering the future of the US Open, gazing out the window of a plane approaching LaGuardia Airport, when he spotted me. He changed my life.In 1977, tennis was in the midst of a tremendous boom in popularity. But it was still considered a sport of and for the country club set. And no wonder. Three of the four Grand Slam championships, including the US Open, were played at exclusive, private clubs. In our case, the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, New York, which is just a few subway stops but many income brackets removed from Flushing Meadows.Hester, a tough man with profound democratic instincts, resolved to take the US Open out of the country club and into the public park. He rammed his agenda through the USTA board and ultimately got the entire National Tennis Center created in one year, in time to host the 1978 Open.There I was, reborn and renamed for a marvelous, soulful musician instead of a stitching machine. I was the centerpiece of the largest tennis Grand Slam venue in the world, with seats for 18,000. No tennis stadium on earth was larger. And it was a public facility, in a public park.Oh, there was blowback. Some critics didnt like my bare bones look, with all those steel girders and a visible, concrete underbelly. Others missed the genteel aspects of the country club. Some wanted more greenery. Snobs thought the USTA was going down-market or just grabbing for more money. Most of them forget this: In just 12 months, Hester got an entire Grand Slam facility built. There would be time to cross the ts and dot the is.This was a transformative moment in tennis. We opened the floodgates on a new era that was only stirring when Open tennis began in 1968. In 1978, the U.S. dominated tennis as well as the economics of tennis. We shaped the future, setting the tone for how the world would receive, view and regard the game. The results speak for themselves.Within a few years, Tennis Australia officials would do exactly the same thing Hester did. Look where they are now. Wimbledon has undergone massive renovations and kept up with the times, evolving into a private club with a near-messianic and almost exclusively public mission. The French are hamstrung by local politics and threatening to move from Roland Garros if not allowed to fulfill their manifest destiny. The global reach of the game now extends far beyond the silver on a white linen tablecloth.And yes, those were grand times. The players we had only made it better. What can I say about Jimmy Connors? Man, did he go at it with that Johnny Mac! Chrissie and Steffi brought a touch of class, but I had a soft spot for that feisty little tiger cub, Tracy Austin. Martina and Pete, what offensive talents! Andre never did figure me out. Stony-faced Ivan was a hoot. I couldnt get rid of him -- eight finals in a row! Sheesh. So many memories.It was an unending party for 19 years. Then Ashe was opened in 1996. You might think I was shattered by that. They loped off my upper deck, reducing my capacity to 10,200 (they threw in a facelift, covering my facade with brick to match Ashe). They got rid of anything like a press box, and most seats became open on a first-come, first-serve basis. That bred long lines and frustrated fans. I was relegated to being the No. 2 show court.I dont like the way my reputation has been tarnished over time by the crowding and access problems. It would have been nice in these last few years to host Roger Federer, Serena Williams or Novak Djokovic. But I dont mind having been relegated. Ashe was the right call -- the stadium honors the right person.Its dark out beyond my rim and the MTA rail yard, but I imagine the bulldozers and earthmovers are already lined up, ready to go to work Monday. Sometimes I wish there were another way, but I know there isnt. Im an artifact. Ive outlived my usefulness. But for a long time I was the most important tennis court in the world. Raekwon McMillan Jersey . PAUL, Minn. 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