Very few sports are as exciting to watch as tennis is, and following a grand slam is an experience that is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. The U.S. Open is one of the most viewed and popular tennis championships today. Fans from all over the world dream about watching their favorite tennis player deliver on the court, and if they are lucky, they might catch a rogue tennis ball or get a signature. The U.S Open Championship has changed dramatically over the years, becoming one of the most viewed and attended international tennis events today.
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The History of the US Open
The National Singles Championship
Initially, the U.S. Open was held in two completely separate events. A tournament was held for men, and a different contest was held for women. The first U.S. Open event was held in August of 1881. It was a men’s only tournament held at the Newport Casino, and it was called the National Singles Championship. Only men who were members of the U.S. National Lawn Tennis Association could compete. American Richard Sears won it. In 1887, the first women’s National Singles Championship was held at the Philadelphia Cricket Club. Two years later, the women’s doubles championship was held, and then in 1892, the first mixed doubles championship in the U.S. was held. The five events: men, women, men doubles, women doubles, and mixed doubles championships were held separately until 1968.
The birth of the U.S. Open
In 1968 the U.S. enjoyed its first U.S. Open championship allowing all professional tennis players to compete. It was held in Queens, New York, at the West Side Tennis Club. Then in 1978, the championship was moved to a new location also in Queens, called the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, where it is still being held today.
Surface changes over the years
Initially, the U.S. Open Championship was held on grass courts. However, in 1975, the court surface changed to clay. Then, in 1978, the surface was changed to DecoTurf, a concrete or an asphalt base covered by acrylic, making a hard surface that allows for fast play.
The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is an extensive tennis facility that can accommodate grand slams and all the fans who want to see it.
First, the Arthur Ashe Stadium is the largest venue that can host up to 22,000 spectators.
Second, the Louis Armstrong Stadium can comfortably hold up to 10,000 spectators.
And lastly, the Grand Slam Stadium can accommodate 6,000 people. Finally, there are several small side courts. The courts are well lit for good play at night. The inner courts have been painted blue to show the movement of the ball more clearly. The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center has become widely recognized as the U.S. Open Championships’ home with thousands of eager fans and tourists streaming there during the two weeks of the U.S. Open Championships.
How big is the U.S. Open exactly?
The U.S. Open is a massive championship that is highly popular among professional players and tennis fans alike. It is a sports extravaganza and a feast for the media. Offering musical performances and activities for the family, the U.S. Open has become a massive tourist attraction over the years. When it comes to attendance, a record-breaking number of 737,872 spectators were recorded in 2019. Over the two weeks in 2019, 23 of the championship’s 24 sessions were sold out. Of course, this would be in great contrast to the following year’s attendance due to the COVID19 pandemic preventing spectators from attending the event.
What are the most memorable US Open moments?
The longest match
Spectators were held on the edge of their seats during the captivating semi-final in 1992. The match was played between Michael Chang from the U.S. and Swedish player Stefan Edberg. The game was a grueling five and a half hours, with Edberg coming out victorious. To this day, it is the longest U.S Open match.
Tracy Austin’s victory
In 1979, Tracy Austin amazed the world when she won the U.S Open. Why? Well, she was only 16 years old. Unfortunately, the young star had a short-lived career, winning her second and final U.S. Open in 1981 when she was 18 years old. She retired from tennis at the age of 21 because of back complications.
Del Potro’s victory over Federer in 2009
Tennis superstar Roger Federer held five U.S Open titles consecutively when he stepped onto the court with Juan Martin Del Potro in 2009. It was Del Potro’s first Grand Slam, and he was ranked in sixth place. However, Del Porto ended Federer’s streak of straight U.S. Open wins, taking the title.
The Women’s finals in 1995
Monica Seles and Steffi Graf came face to face during their finals in 1995, two years after a Steffi Graf fan stabbed Seles in the shoulder. Steffi Graf was victorious.
Kim Clijsters Victory in 2009
When Kim Clijsters took a break from tennis to have a baby, the world assumed that would be the end of her professional tennis career. However, she proved everyone wrong by winning the grand slam in 2009. Her 18-month old joined her on the court after the game showing the world that new moms really could still have it all.
Andre Agassi’s retirement match in 2006
Andre Agassi was 36 years old when he took on his final grand slam in 2006. The phenomenal athlete was in significant discomfort as the game progressed, and it was no secret that this would be his last grand slam event. Benjamin Becker was victorious that day, and as the match ended, 23,000 fans were applauding louder than ever before. Their applause, however, wasn’t for victorious Becker, but instead, for an emotional Agassi as he took his final walk of the tennis court.
Renee Richards’ match against Virginia Wade
In 1977 Renee Richards and Virginia Wade faced each other in a first-round match where Wade took the win. This game, however, was remarkable and would be historically remembered because of its significance. This is because Richards was born as a man who participated in the men’s U.S. Open five times before having an operation to change from a man to a woman in 1975, changing her name from Richard Raskind to Renee Richards. She participated in several tournaments in the U.S. Still; unfortunately, she wasn’t allowed to participate in the U.S. Open in 1976 because she refused to have a chromosome test done, which is a requirement for entering the U.S. Open. She took the matter before the Supreme Court, which ruled in her favor, and she participated in the U.S Open in 1977.
Nastase’s behavior during the 1979 match
John McEnroe and Ilie Nastase were both controversial players who enjoyed showing their true colors on the court. They were both known for being disrespectful and receiving multiple warnings from chair umpires because of their unaccepted court antics. However, the match of 1979 would set a new record in ridiculous behavior with Nastase pretending to fall asleep on his tennis racket and refusing to continue with the game even after being warned by Frank Hammond, the chair umpire. After a penalty point and a penalty game had been awarded against Nastase, Hammond was instructed to put a timer on the rebellious player. After no improvement in his behavior, a match was awarded to McEnroe, who went on to take the win.
What was the Impact of COVID19 on the U.S. Open?
Every year the U.S Open Championship draws thousands of fans to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for two weeks. Tennis players are adored as they play in front of thousands of spectators who sit and watch their every move in great anticipation.
However, the pandemic changed the championship dramatically in 2020 because of limitations. No spectators were allowed, so tennis players had to play their matches and grand slam finals on empty courts for the first time. It must have been a big adjustment for the players who were used to having thousands of fans around them.
Players had to undergo regular testing to ensure they didn’t have the virus, and they had to follow protocol carefully, such as wearing masks when entering and leaving the court.
The men’s single title was taken by Dominic Thiem, while Naomi Osaka won the women’s singles title.
Tennis is a sport that brings everyone together. Whether you are one of the lucky ones who get to watch it on the court or watching on the TV from home, people enjoy the thrill and excitement that the game brings. The U.S. Open Championship allows us to witness the best in the world of tennis and gives professional tennis players the chance to showcase their skills and talents. That is why it is often found on people’s bucket lists. One thing we can be sure of is that attending the U.S. Open Championship will be an experience that you’ll never regret or forget.