Memphis, Tenn. – Donald Dell, an innovator in the worlds of tennis and sports business, was the guest of honor and received the AutoZone Liberty Bowl’s most prestigious recognition, the Distinguished Citizen Award, tonight at the Hilton Memphis Hotel. All proceeds from the dinner go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“The AutoZone Liberty Bowl has a long history of excellence and is one of the most tradition-rich college football bowl games in America. To be recognized with the 2019 Distinguished Citizen Award by such an outstanding organization is a tremendous honor,” said Donald Dell. “Many exceptional American icons in business, sports and entertainment have received this award and I very much appreciate the AutoZone Liberty Bowl including me on this list of incredible
“Donald joins a decades-long list of renowned Americans who have distinguished themselves and reached the pinnacle in their chosen field,” said Steve Ehrhart, Executive Director of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. “We are proud to include Donald among the luminaries who have been honored by the AutoZone Liberty Bowl over our 61-year history.”
“Donald Dell is one of the giants in the history of tennis and one of the great founding fathers and innovators of sports marketing and sports representation,” said Kevin Kane, President and CEO of Memphis Tourism. “Donald’s life and career check all the boxes of what the Distinguished Citizen Award is all about.
He shaped modern tennis and the industry of sports marketing and representation. He is also an amazing philanthropist, having raised millions of dollars for various charitable initiatives.”
Dell played tennis at Yale, earning All-American honors in 1958, 1959 and 1960. He played on
two United States Davis Cup Teams and later served as the youngest captain of the U.S. Davis
Dell’s passion for the business side of tennis made him one of the game’s most prolific power
brokers and an industry leader. He is recognized as one of the “fathers” of sports marketing and
athlete representation. Dell founded ProServ, a worldwide sports marketing firm. He
represented many of the world’s top tennis players, including Arthur Ashe and Stan Smith.
Outside of tennis, he was NBA star Michael Jordan’s first lawyer/agent.
Dell was instrumental in co-founding the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). He pioneered national television coverage of tennis and became a familiar face and voice providing
commentary for PBS and NBC television.
Dell has been an energetic philanthropist for many years, raising millions of dollars for medical research, scholarships, education and youth tennis. Following Arthur Ashe’s death, he co-
founded the Arthur Ashe Foundation.
In 2009, Dell was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. His legacy as one of the
pioneers of sports business and sports marketing was recognized with the presentation of the
Champions Award from Sports Business Journal in 2013.
Dell is a noted author and is still active today overseeing the Citi Open tennis tournament in
Washington, D.C. He also teaches law at the University of Virginia.
About the Distinguished Citizen Award:
As the 7th oldest bowl game in America, the AutoZone Liberty Bowl was founded on the
principles of freedom, patriotism and liberty. One of the Bowl’s time-honored traditions is the
annual presentation of the Distinguished Citizen Award. The award has been presented to a
cross section of prominent Americans from a wide range of professions, including military
commanders, governors and congressmen, as well as leaders in business, medicine, education,
entertainment and sports.
Previous honorees include St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital founder Danny Thomas; U.S.
Army General Kenneth Tovo; Nobel Prize recipient Dr. Peter Doherty; FedEx founder Fred
Smith; AutoZone founder Pitt Hyde; U.S. Navy Admiral William Lawrence; Holiday Inn founder
Kemmons Wilson and actress/business entrepreneur Priscilla Presley.
Legends from the sports world such as Paul “Bear” Bryant, Bobby Bowden, Lou Holtz, Tony
Dungy, Lee Corso, Darrell Waltrip, Dick Vitale, Archie Manning and Tim McCarver have also
received the award.
The 61st AutoZone Liberty Bowl game will be played December 31 at 2:45pm central time.