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September 1, 2018

Katrina Adams

Ben Doller

Eric Goulder

New York, NY, USA


CHRIS WIDMAIER: Thank you for joining us for this very special announcement. I'm Chris Widmaier, managing director of communications with the USTA.

Before we open it up to questions and answers, just one or two things. Number one, we do not have a location determined yet for where this statue will go on the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Nor are we going to be sharing renderings with you today, as Eric Goulder, our sculptor for this project, is still in the creative process.

But before we do open it up to questions, I wanted to get a couple of words from the three people that we have here. In the center, Katrina Adams, chairman of the board and president of the USTA. To her right, Ben Doller, chairman of Sotheby's. And of course our sculptor, Eric Goulder.

We are running the slide show behind Katrina.

Katrina, please give us a few words on why we are doing this and its importance.

KATRINA ADAMS: Thank you for joining us this day. It's exciting for me because this is something I really wanted to see happen.

In December of 2017, my board of directors agreed to allow us to erect a monument of some sort of Althea Gibson to commemorate her greatness. She is an historic icon. In our sport of tennis, she was the one that really broke the color barrier. She is the Jackie Robinson of tennis.

She's very important to our society, in our sport, particularly back in the '50s, to be able to pave the road and provide pathways for others like Arthur Ashe, Zina Garrison, Lori McNeil, Chanda Rubin, Venus, Serena, myself and others, to be where we are today.

It's a proud moment to be able to say that we will be putting a monument on the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center premises next year.

CHRIS WIDMAIER: I will ask Ben, why don't you talk about the process.

In addition to being the chairman of Sotheby's, Ben is also a board member of the USTA Foundation. I think his background at Sotheby's gave us a little bit of help in this process.


BEN DOLLER: Yeah, actually, I just celebrated my 29th anniversary there this past week. I was delighted when the USTA reached out to me and asked if I would be a part of this project.

So what I did is I came up with a list of potential artists that we could go to, and then it was also put out more widely as to almost have an RFP for the project. I couldn't have been more pleased when we chose Eric Goulder, because one of the things I think was important was it to be a figurative, excellent figurative example of Althea.

I think Eric is one of the best sort of figurative and modernist sculptors out there. One has to be careful when you're talking figurative so that it doesn't look almost sort of machine-made, but it really is art.

I think Eric's project and proposal combines something that will have a magic, a genius of capturing a personality, and then also has a concept of having something be traditional, but really looking forward, as well.

So I was very pleased that we chose Eric, and I think everyone is going to be extremely excited when they see the finished project.

CHRIS WIDMAIER: That's not too much pressure for you, Eric.

ERIC GOULDER: I will be the most excited when it's finished.

CHRIS WIDMAIER: Maybe you can give some thoughts on the creative process and things, and then we will open it up to questions.

ERIC GOULDER: Yeah, so when Ben asked me if I'd be interested in submitting a proposal for this, I had to say yes because he's the chairman of Sotheby's (smiling).

But it really got me thinking of how I could approach a sculpture of a sporting figure in a new way instead of just a figurine, and also to make something that doesn't just memorialize her, but tells more of her story, which I think is really important.

I came up with something that I was very, very proud of. And once I came up with the idea, I really wanted to get this project. I'm really happy that they selected me and excited to do it and to work with the people at the USTA.

You see what they do here, so it's an incredibly accomplished, inspiring group of people. I'm happy to be part of it.

BEN DOLLER: That reminded me, Eric said, I don't do sports figures.

I said, Think about it. Think about it. Read up on Althea and think about it.

He came back to me within a few days and said, I want to put my hat in the ring.

KATRINA ADAMS: If I can just say, I want to recognize Fran Gray, one of the committee members, long-time friend, and stakeholder of Althea, runs Althea Gibson's estate. It was a pleasure to have her a part of this process, someone who really knew Althea and knew what she would want and to understand what this process was about.

So thank you, Fran, for being a part of that.

Q. Eric, what are the materials you're going to use? Are they symbolic of things about Althea that go beyond just the physical characteristics?
ERIC GOULDER: Not so much. I want to use material, probably bronze. I will sculpt it in clay, will be cast in bronze and some elements of stone, as well.

It's more about a permanence. It's what we are thinking. Creating something that won't involve too much maintenance and upkeep for the people here.

Q. We talk about Arthur Ashe and his legacy in terms of African-American tennis players. Why hasn't she been as celebrated as often?
KATRINA ADAMS: I think when you look at Arthur, what he did on and off the court in the Open Era is more of relevance, or has been, as far as the tennis community is concerned. This is something that we are going beyond, and before the Open Era, and someone that's truly an icon in our sport, and someone that was very diverse in her own thinking and her abilities, because she was more than just a tennis player.

She was a golfer, a singer, she had so much talent. For her to grace us, to grace our sport with her talents and to be able to have the accomplishments that she did, is one of the main reasons why we are celebrating her, and we have in our own way, but now the world will be able to see it.

Q. It's a national part of our national discussion right now, obviously, who we commemorate with statues and things like that. Wondering why you guys chose a figurative piece of art rather than a mural or plaque on the grounds of Althea. Was there something in particular about a statue that you wanted?
KATRINA ADAMS: Well, again, as Eric spoke again, the rendering and his process, it will be different. It will be something that's educational. It's something that will be innovative and interactive.

So when it is unveiled, I think you will see something very different, but something that we will all be very proud of.

Q. Is there a tentative timeline of when some renderings will be available for us to see?
ERIC GOULDER: Yeah, so going back to also your question, it's a sculpture that involves conceptual and figurative and will also involve some new media, digital media, and augmented reality, which is where things are going.

It's something that will adapt over time as technologies also progress. It will be something that will never seem dated and that the USTA -- it should be groundbreaking, that was kind of my idea, like she was a groundbreaking figure.

So as far as your question, I plan on doing the figurative part of her. I have already started. The process will be to do it life-size initially, and then the sculpture will be, then, made over-life-size.

It's whenever the USTA feels is the right time to show some things. I usually don't involve people so much in my process, because I'm a perfectionist and I want things to look how I want them to look before people see them. But I'm working with the USTA and I'm happy to do whatever everybody wants me to do.

CHRIS WIDMAIER: We will set up some type of documentation schedule and rendering schedule, but a little premature right now.

Q. Creative process, it will ultimately lead you to the final result?
ERIC GOULDER: Yes. I will make it in clay, the figurative part, and then that will be molds and cast in bronze, which would be patinaed, and there will be architectural elements most likely in stone, but may be in metal. We have haven't fully figured that out.

I think once we know where the site is definite, then I'm also going to be working with a team of people who are new media artists who do the augmented reality and the digital media.

Q. From the family standpoint, what kind of involvement have they had in this process?
KATRINA ADAMS: That's why we brought Fran Gary to be a part of this process and to have the conversations with her. She was fully engaged and had a lot of input through the people that we interviewed. We had a very diverse group of artists and sculptors that we interviewed and saw a lot of different styles, if you will. Again, this is the decision that we landed on because of everything that he mentioned a few minutes ago.

Q. Katrina, there are obviously a lot of options of where to put this at. What goes into that decision-making process?
KATRINA ADAMS: Well, it's about us going out with our staff and Danny and the team and surveying the property. We have a few places we think it will go, but we want to make sure because it's going to be such an interactive piece that as many people as possible will be able to walk by it and not have to search for it.

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