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Local tennis mourns death of former New York mayor Dinkins

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David Dinkins plays tennis at the WER Joell Tennis Stadium during the 2007 Celebrity Tennis Classic (File photograph)
David Lambert, right, seen at the US Open in New York in 2008 with former New York mayor David Dinkins, centre, and Dennis van der Meer.

Bermuda tennis lost a close friend with the passing on Monday of former New York mayor David Dinkins at the age of 93.

Mr Dinkins, whose wife Joyce died just over a month ago at the age of 89, is New York’s only black mayor to date, a post he held from 1990 to 1993.

Dinkins came to Bermuda many times for the Elbow Beach Celebrity Tennis Classic and was good friends with former Bermuda Lawn Tennis Association presidents, the late Allan Simmons and David Lambert, who was saddened to hear of his passing on Monday night.

Mr Lambert said he last spoke to Mr Dinkins just before the US Open Tennis Tournament when they discussed the Celebrity Classic returning next year. “Obviously he’s going to be a huge miss, but the discussions will continue,” Mr Lambert said.

“I received information at 1.30 this morning and I didn’t know that Mayor Dinkins was not in good health. The last time I spoke to him, everything was fine.

“I met Mayor Dinkins through Toby Dillas who was in charge of Bermuda Tourism in New York for many years,” Mr Lambert recalled.

“I was talking to Toby leading up to the Celebrity Classic and he asked me if I had enough celebrities and I said ʽI believe we do, who were you thinking of’ and he said Mayor Dinkins. I said ’we’ll take him’, it was a no-brainer.

“We first met at the US Open in 2000 and discussed what we were trying to do in Bermuda and sent some additional information to his assistant and he came on board. Whenever we needed Mayor Dinkins, he always said ’give me notice’ because his schedule was very heavy.

“What stood out was he always wanted a post-mortem the next morning, to talk how the event went and how we can improve on it. Punctuality meant a lot to him.“

Mr Lambert added: “The first [Celebrity Classic] event was in 2001, which we all know was the year of the World Trade Centre attack. Several of our celebrities were hesitant but he got on the plane with a few others and came.

“It was all about the young people. He was very excited and I remember him standing on the side watching the juniors play tennis and have fun.

“Mayor Dinkins was a friend to Bermuda and was an important part of our Celebrity Classic. He always offered valuable advice and helped to make the event the success it was.”

The Celebrity Classic was last held in 2012, but there are plans to revive the event. “The question we are asked is are we going to do another event and the answer is yes, based on the world, meaning we’re very fortunate to have sponsors but we have to make sure people are comfortable travelling.

“We are talking about it more and more and the next one we hold will be the eighth.

“We held seven and I believe Mayor Dinkins travelled to six of them, the one he missed was because of a scheduling conflict and he had to travel to Africa. He was very supportive of this event because he knew the juniors were going to benefit from it.”

He added: “The celebrities Mayor Dinkins wanted me to meet this year definitely would have been a good addition. I just spoke to Katrina Adams, who was very close to Mayor Dinkins also.

“My wife, Barbara, and I travelled to New York for his birthday parties. My daughters were close with the Dinkins family and every time we went to New York we called the Dinkins to say hi. They expected us to make contact with them whenever we were in New York.”

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Published November 26, 2020 at 9:16 am (Updated November 26, 2020 at 9:14 am)

Local tennis mourns death of former New York mayor Dinkins

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