Event: US Open; one of the four Grand Slam Tennis events. In 2014, it is from August 25th to September 8th.
Specifics: Hard court event. The main stadium is called Arthur Ashe. There is a morning session and an afternoon session. The winner gets a trophy, and the runner up gets to eat defeat on a giant shiny plate. What’s special: Upscale event where people wear crisp colors and the expected civility and silence of the audience only magnifies the savageness of the grunts and butt scratching. One of the more international sports that Americans care about.
Venue: The Venue is beautiful and well aligned with the weather. The grounds have two large gathering areas – the steel globe that had a cameo in Iron Man 2, and a big square fountain of which security is extremely protective. Why go: Buying Arthur Ashe tickets even to the earlier games almost always guarantees someone famous due to the set up of the bracket. The nosebleed seats still provide reasonably good views and vibe. Near the front, celebrity spotting is a common activity – just look where other people are looking (when they are not looking at the ball). Along the court and into the players’ boxes is always a good place to start. Also it’s a good excuse to wear that crisp summer outfit.
Why watch: Being a one-on-one match that can go on for hours, the sport is highly psychological. Looking at the final scores often do not reflect the level the level of exertion. Single elimination means there is always some upset or overarching story.
How to visit like a pro: If you can’t get into one of the boxes, make sure you wear sunscreen and a big hat in the morning session and a windbreaker in the afternoon session. Get a earphone from the American Express station if you hold their credit card so you can hear the announcers explain what’s going on, and Sharapova’s grunts will be directly broadcasted to your ear like a lover’s whisper.
The limo parking lot to the left of the stadium (if you face the front entrance) is one of – if not the – most efficient parking lots for any event held in NYC. You can also take mass transit.
Food: If you are hungry, you can stop by Sripaphrai at Woodside for some of the best Thai food in the boroughs or go one stop past to Flushing, where there’s lots and lots of Chinese food. *As of the post date, the 7 train has been spotted with bed bugs, so I highly recommend not taking mass transit, or just standing the whole time**
Famous players (photos from official US Open website
Serena Williams: 17 grand slams, highest achieving active female player, and will shove a ball down your throat if you are the hapless line judge who penalizes her with a questionable call. The Williams sisters dominated tennis for over a decade with their powerful playing style and form fitting Nike skirts. Cool fact: She learned French and surprised her own family with by accepting her French open win en Francais.
Maria Sharapova: After winning the US Open at age 16, her career has been afflicted with injuries and mood swings. Over time many people forgot that the svelte 6 foot 2 tall Russian can do more than endorse products and shake the stadium with her primal grunts. Fresh off her French Open win this year, she expected to go far… though she’s already having some scares in the early rounds.
Novak Djokovic: The joker of the bunch. For a while it seemed as if he would be forever the bridesmaid and never the bride behind Federer and Nadal’s reigns. But eventually Federer got older, and Nadal broke a lot of his bones, and Djokovic rose to the top. Now his girlfriend is capitalizing on her new found fame-by-association and is pimping it for the cameras.
Andy Murray: If Djokovic was the bridesmaid, then Murray was the flower girl. When he won Wimbledon in 2013, it was as if his British heritage was finally justified. If he wins any more grand slams he might be knighted. He’s mostly not famous because he doesn’t have any movie star qualities.
Roger Federer: He’s not a looker, but he’s swiss and nonchalant. He plays tennis like he’s dancing a ballet. He might not look it, but he gets to the ball lightening fast. With 17 wins under his belt, he has want for nothing. He seems friendly with his nemesis, Rafael Nadal, off court. But on court he is a silent killer – no grunts or groans, but he will wear an opponent down with his silence assurance after 5 hours of game play.
Rafael Nadal (absent from US open due to wrist injury): Works hard, plays really really hard. The man pushes his body to the limit so he’s extremely prone to injury. He is trying to convert to a style that’s less power and more finesse, but so far, the world has not seen the results. Despite his good looks and incredibly toned abs, I am deeply disturbed by his public butt picking. (photo from wikipedia)
Fun facts: Anna Wintour often goes to the final. She seems to be a Federer fan, and the last week of the US Open usually coincides with Mercedes Benz fashion week. The main announcer, John McEnroe is a famous ex-tennis star and is full of piss and vinegar. His claim to fame is winning 7 grand slams and racket-throwing tantrums. Donald Trump’s box is in one of the corners.