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 28 through September 10. It's a chance to see the sport's heavyweights, like Caroline Wozniacki, 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.
1. There’s a roof.
Those who attended the US Open last year (or watched it on TV) probably noticed the new retractable roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium. 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 recently upgraded 85 percent of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center—renovating almost all of the side courts and adding seating, which has increased total capacity on those courts by more than a third. They also expanded walkways and added more concessions (and, yes, restrooms) throughout the grounds.
There’s also a brand-new 8,000-seat grandstand stadium. 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 26. You can also attend–for free—the qualifying tournament (August 22—25), in which ambitious players battle for a berth in the main tournament, and practice day (stay tuned for details), when the stars hone their game in preparation for their moment in the spotlight. Also free is Community Day (September 7), whose highlights include men's and women's doubles, wheelchair competiton and juniors matches. Also check out the Fan Fest at South Street Seaport on August 24 and 25, and free practices from August 21 through 27. For details on all the highlights of what the US Open calls "Fan Week," visit usopen.org.
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.
Last year’s iteration of Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day included music from Flo Rida, Zara Larsson, Forever in Your Mind and others. There were also interactive and entertaining tennis-related activities, plus appearances by Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Keep your eyes peeled for details about this year.
Opening night (August 28) traditionally brings a lot of star power—and this year, Shania Twain is set to provide the music.
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.