2011-08-17 / Editorials

US Open Welcomes All To Queens

On August 29, the eyes of the tennis world will be focused on the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park when the first match of the 130th US Open will be held. After its precursor, Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day, a full-day tennis and music festival for children and families, is held on Saturday, August 27, the 130th US Open will mark the start of its 15th consecutive year. The US Open will last through Sunday, September 11, and will bring the best and brightest tennis players to the Center.

The roots of the Open are deeply implanted in Queens. In 1915, the West Side Tennis Club first hosted a precursor to the modern day US Open, the U.S. National Men’s Singles Championships. When it began in 1881, the U.S. National Championships event was strictly limited to amateurs and play was restricted to men. In 1968, the tournament became “open” to both professionals and amateurs and changed its name to the US Open.

In 1978, the US Open moved to the hard courts of the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park from the private West Side Tennis Stadium in Forest Hills. The new facility, which featured the 20,000-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium as its centerpiece, was financed by the USTA (with no public funding) and built on the grounds of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs. In 1997, the USTA opened Arthur Ashe Stadium as its main stadium and expanded the tennis facilities at the USTA National Tennis Center. The construction increased the number of courts. In 2006, the USTA renamed the entire facility the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in honor of one of tennis’ finest ambassadors and a product of public courts in her native Long Beach, California.

The premier tennis tournament truly deserves to have the word “Open” in its title. For two weeks the US Open brings players and spectators from around the world to a sports venue located in the heart of the most diverse county in America. During the rest of the year, area residents are welcome to play on the Tennis Center’s courts. Only during the two weeks of the US Open is the Tennis Center closed to public play.

It goes without saying that the Open brings more to Queens than tennis players and the fans who follow them. The borough’s restaurants, hotels, transportation and other elements that make up Queens’ economic base will benefit as well. We can think of no element in Queens County that will not benefit in some measure because this prestigious event is held here every year.

As we have and will continue to do, we welcome the US Open and wish the best to all the players who grace its courts. The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is a jewel in the crown of Queens, and the players and fans add to its sparkle. Welcome, one and all.

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