CINCINNATI, OH, USA - Thursday was a sad day in the tennis community as one of its most-loved and longest-serving members, Paul Flory, passed at age 90 from complications of Alzheimer's disease.
Flory was the face of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. He was Tournament Director from 1975 to 1997 and remained Tournament Chairman until his death, a full-time volunteer for 36 years.
The tournament experienced incredible growth under his tenure. An ATP tournament for most of its history, a WTA stop was added in 2004 and in 2011 it became a joint event, with the men's and women's tournaments going on at the same time. It is the country's oldest professional tennis event still played in its original city and the only tennis site in the US apart from the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to have four permanent stadiums - each of which has lights for night play.
Since 2002, Western & Southern Financial Group has been title sponsor of the tournament, benefitting Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Barrett Cancer Center and Tennis For City Youth. Under Flory's long-running guidance, the tournament actually raised millions for local charities.
The 52,000-square foot player center was also named after Flory - the Paul Flory Player Center.
Flory is survived by his three children - Susan, Ann and Bruce, the latter of whom also served as Tournament Director, from 1998 to 2010 - as well as four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Message from Stacey Allaster, WTA Chairman & CEO:
Dear WTA Tennis Family,
It is with a heavy heart but incredibly fond memories that I write to let you know that our own Paul Flory, longtime Tournament Director of our event in Cincinnati, tennis pioneer, and great friend to women's tennis, passed away yesterday.
It is no exaggeration to say that Paul - or "Uncle Paul" as many of us affectionately called him - was one of the true greats of our sport. A visionary in pushing the boundaries of what an event could become, a leader in pulling and pushing the sport to higher and higher levels of success, and a true pioneer in harnessing sport to uplift communities and bringing communities to the table to help lift the sport of tennis in the United States.
Anyone who knew Paul would tell you though that he was much, much more than a great leader and great businessman. He was a great human being. Incredibly caring to those around him. Incredibly inspirational and uplifting to all whom he touched. And through his many decades in the sport, Paul did touch so many in a positive way, including myself.
Below is an article on Paul that that speaks to much of what he did and meant to the sport and his local community, including the millions he raised for charity during his lifetime.
In Paul's honor, the WTA will help establish a scholarship program in his name in Cincinnati to support young girls.
We have lost a great man, but his legacy will live on in so many powerful and positive ways. Please join me in passing our condolences to his family, friends, Cincinnati tournament team, and the many event volunteers who supported Paul and whom he touched in so many ways throughout the decades.