9 Things You Need to Know About the US Open

by Jonathan Zeller

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The US Open, the biggest pro tennis event in the United States (and one of the four Grand Slam tournaments that are the sport’s most prestigious), returns to Flushing Meadows Corona Park August 29 through September 11. It's a chance to see the sport's heavyweights, like Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Victoria Azarenka and Novak Djokovic, up close as they battle for glory and prize money—the purse is more than $3 million for the singles winners. 

While any tennis fan is fairly certain to have a great time during a visit to the Open, we've put together nine tips to help you get the most out of your visit to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com.

Arthur Ashe Stadium. Photo: Julienne Schaer

1. There’s a roof.
Those who attended the US Open last year (or watched it on TV) probably noticed some construction at Arthur Ashe Stadium, and this year the retractable roof is finished. That means no more weather-related cancellations—if you buy a ticket for a match at the main stadium, you can be confident that it’ll take place.

2. Actually, most of the grounds have been renovated.
The changes don’t stop at the roof. The USTA says they’ve upgraded 85 percent of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center—renovating almost all of the side courts and adding seating, increasing total capacity on those courts by more than a third. They’ve also expanded walkways and added more concessions (and, yes, restrooms) throughout the grounds.

There’s also a brand-new 8,000-seat grandstand stadium, to replace the old one that’s slated for demolition after this year’s tournament. In the years to come, the USTA plans for a new Louis Armstrong Stadium, with a retractable roof like the one on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

3. You can get in free or cheap.
It's true. Though this is tennis at its highest level, you can still pay as little as $35 (before fees) for an opening-night or early evening session ticket, or $10 for Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day on August 27. You can also attend—for free—the qualifying tournament (August 23–26), in which ambitious players battle for a berth in the main tournament, and practice day, August 28, when the stars hone their game in preparation for their moment in the spotlight. There's also Community Day on September 8, during which there's free admission for men's and women's doubles, junior tournament play, a musical performance by DJ Rac and exhibitions featuring the likes of James Blake.

4. It's not just tennis.
Even if you’re not a superfan (or if you’re attending with someone who's not so into tennis), you can still be entertained by festivities at the Open.

This year’s iteration of Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day (again, that's on August 27) is scheduled to include music from Flo Rida, Zara Larsson, Forever in Your Mind and others. There will also be interactive and entertaining tennis-related fun, including appearances by Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

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Opening night (August 29) traditionally brings a lot of star power—this year, the music comes courtesy of Phil Collins, thrilling those who prefer 1980s top-40 hits to tennis.

Aside from the music and the kid-friendly fun, there's plenty of food, which most everyone enjoys. Options include Ben & Jerry's ice cream, the upscale Aces wine and sushi bar, a glatt kosher cart and even a Carnegie Deli outpost. Bargain seekers can hit the street vendors near the grounds, too, though security won’t let you enter with outside snacks.

5. Use public transit.
It’s going to be tough to get parking, and a spot will set you back $23. Best to just take the train, and that goes double on days when the Mets are playing at home.

6. Wear a hat and sunglasses, and apply plenty of sunscreen.
Seriously—if you are outside for a day session and don’t take sun-protection measures, you are in line for some nasty burns.

7. Know the rules.
Like all other big events, the US Open has a lengthy list of what is and is not allowed. Do yourself a favor and read up to prevent that awkward moment when you can’t bring your alpaca in to sit with you.

8. Embrace the side courts.
You don’t need a courtside ticket to get a great view—you just need to know where to look. If you buy a grounds pass, you’ll be able to see the pros at very close range on the numerous side courts (and at a fraction of the cost of a courtside seat in one of the stadiums). 

9. By the way...
Fans aren’t the only ones excited to explore New York City during the US Open; the players get pretty stoked as well. Take it from Roger Federer and Ana Ivanovic.

US Open Tennis Championships

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US Open Tennis Championships

For two weeks each year, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens becomes the focus of the tennis world.

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