Alexis C. Colvin, MD, and the US Open Tennis Championships have a rich history as perfect doubles partners.
As a Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Dr. Colvin has served as Chief Medical Officer at the last four US Open tournaments held by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York. The first woman and first Asian American to bear that title, Dr. Colvin heads up a multidisciplinary team of Mount Sinai Health System specialists that has served as the official medical services provider to athletes from around the world who converge each August for the renowned tournament.
“These athletes are competing all over the world throughout the year and when they come to New York, they know they can get outstanding care from our medical team. Not only are we providing cutting-edge treatments for musculoskeletal issues, but we have all of the resources of the Mount Sinai Health System available to provide comprehensive care for the entire athlete,” says Dr. Colvin.
As Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Colvin is poised on the sidelines each day of competition, ready to jump in if a player is injured. But an even bigger part of her role is the meticulous planning that begins at least six months prior to the tournament. That off-the-court preparation took on special meaning at the 2020 tournament—the first major sporting event in New York. The event was also the first major tennis tournament to take place since the start of the pandemic as The Championships, Wimbledon in London, England, had been cancelled and the French Open at Roland-Garros in Paris, France, had been postponed. Dr. Colvin worked closely with the USTA and infectious disease specialists from Mount Sinai to develop a COVID-19 testing, monitoring, and treatment plan for players from 60 countries that proved to be remarkably successful, and served as a model for other large-scale events that followed. It also provided a template for organizing the 2021 tournament.
“There was no precedent for how to stage a major international sporting event in the midst of a pandemic,” recalls Dr. Colvin, who is also Associate Dean for Alumni Affairs at Mount Sinai. “Our goal was to create a safe environment for hundreds of world-class athletes, their entourage, as well as all of the people involved in the operations of the US Open. It was a true team effort that resulted in a successful tournament that set the bar for how to safely host an event of this magnitude."
Dr. Colvin started working as a physician for the US Open in 2009. Now, as Chief Medical Officer, she oversees a seasoned team of Mount Sinai experts, including orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine physicians, and musculoskeletal radiologists who provide comprehensive medical treatment for players.
For Dr. Colvin, that same level of skills and service carries over to her Mount Sinai practice in Manhattan, whether the patients are “weekend warriors” eager to get back to their favorite sport after sustaining injuries, or older adults with hip pain, for example, which prevents them from playing with their grandchildren.
“What I love about orthopedics is the ability to restore quality of life so that people can return to what they love to do—whether that is reconstructing an anterior cruciate ligament so a patient can return to skiing or fixing a rotator cuff so that a patient can return to work on a construction site,” she notes.
Dr. Colvin hopes that her success in a field where only 8 percent of practicing orthopedists are women and even fewer are Asian will help to inspire others to consider the specialty.
“Diversity in the field of orthopedic surgery is critical for many reasons, but ultimately they all lead to the most important one—better patient care,” she says.
Alexis Chiang Colvin, MD
Professor of Orthopedics