2016-08-24 / Editorials

The US Open, Gigantic Event In Our Own Backyard

Those of us who love to experience the heights of human prowess are in nirvana right now. We have just wrapped up the Olympics and are poised to witness excellence of another kind – the US Open. We are in the epicenter of all the excitement, as it is played on our home turf, every summer at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and we are as proud as ever to be the home of this world-class event. Yes, not only are we in the spotlight of the entire city, but of the world, with our brand new, futuristic and fully operational retractable roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium, right on schedule (as illustrated on the cover of the August 3 issue of the Gazette).

It is not only an honor and a thrill to be placed into the spotlight of the world, it is a boon to our economy, bringing hundreds of millions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of fans, and employing thousands.

The US Open starts Monday, August 29, and runs until Sunday, September 11 – nearly two weeks of play, after untold thousands, maybe millions of man-hours of preparation. In addition to that, if you cannot wait, there is the US Open Qualifying Tournament going on right now and continuing until Friday – free and open to the public!

The US Open started in 1968 in the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills. Ten years later, it was moved to the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. On August 28, 2006, the USTA National Tennis Center was rededicated as the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Over 100 years ago, the West Side Tennis Club first hosted the precursor to the US Open, making the world’s greatest championship tennis synonymous with Queens.

The event brings visitors from all over the world, and they in turn get to sample and experience all we have to offer in our lovely borough, such as hotels, restaurants, night clubs, museums, parks and shows. We try our best to show them something unique, and it is always a top-notch adventure. Visitors always want to return, and so do their friends after hearing them rave about the great time they have here.

This year the stakes are the highest they have ever been, with record-breaking purses.

Serena Williams aims to break the record she holds with Steffi Graf for the most Grand Slam titles; Novak Djokovic is going for his sixth final; other starters include Andy Murray, Venus Williams, Rafael Nadal, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Samantha Stosur, Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori, and numerous American wild card entries. We will miss being thrilled by 17-time Grand Slam champ Roger Federer this summer. Get well Roger, and best wishes to Victoria Azarenka, who has announced she is with child!

“Hamilton” star and Queens native, Tony and Grammy winner, Leslie Odom Jr. will take center stage alongside legend, Phil Collins, at the US Open’s Opening Night.

Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess promises a grand time, with chart-topping performers, celebrities and some of the best tennis players in the game. The event, taking place the Saturday before the US Open, August 27, features a ticketed Stadium Show and concert inside Arthur Ashe Stadium starring Flo Rida, Zara Larsson and featuring appearances by Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. The show is preceded by a free Grounds Festival that offers interactive games, music and tennis activities for all ages. Families can test their skills, watch top tennis pros and have a chance to win prizes. The Grounds Festival also features a free concert with exciting up-and-coming talent on the Hess Festival Stage featuring Jacob Sartorius, Sophie Beem, Citizen Four, Tegan Marie and Los 5, hosted by Radio Disney.

There is also Community Day on September 8, with past champions; a final salute to Louis Armstrong Stadium; the New Grandstand Stadium; exciting new dining locations with food by award-winning chefs; all kinds of high-tech capabilities to add to the fan experience; and so much more – they are really pulling out all the stops this year!

We urge everyone to participate. Attend, pick up playing tips from the pros, spread the word. The event inspires everyone to play the game and we are for anything that gets people moving.

Now if only we can get the World Series and Super Bowl here!

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