RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — On Wednesday, the community is invited to celebrate and witness the unveiling of a new public art project at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Courts in Battery Park near the intersection of Overbrook Road and Hawthorne Avenue.
The Arthur Ashe Birthday Blast event is free and will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. to celebrate Ashe’s 74th birthday.
Artists from the U.N.I.T.Y. Street Project (USP), Sir James L. Thornhill, Hamilton, Michon Pittman and Keith Ramsey, painted a tunnel mural depicting the life and contributions of Richmond native, Arthur Ashe, Jr.
The artist’s tunnel design will be the first of its kind in Virginia. The mural will engulf the 2,200 square foot area inside and outside of the tunnel in the North Richmond park.
The tunnel runs under Overbrook Road and connects the basketball and playground areas to the tennis courts side of the park, where Ashe once practiced and played tennis. The mural project will revitalize the tunnel while honoring Arthur Ashe’s memory and his many achievements as a professional tennis player, activist, and community leader.
The basketball court entrance will show an image of Arthur Ashe looking up toward the heavens while the tennis court entrance shows him holding up the Wimbledon trophy he won in 1975. The inside of the tunnel will be a tennis ball timeline of images and messages from his life. The background colors are vibrant and eye catching bringing light to a “dark place” as described by one community resident.
Children eight to 16-years-old, are invited to go to the courts to learn how to play tennis as part of the Arthur Ashe Birthday Blast on Wednesday. Racquets will be provided for kids who do not have one.