The 134th US Open Tennis Championships will begin on Monday, August 25th. It is the final Grand Slam of the season and the most popular. Approximately a quarter of a million people are expected to come through the gates of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to watch the likes of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Maria Sharapova, and Serena Williams compete in one of tennis’ major events. Here are ten interesting facts about the second oldest tennis major tournament in the world.
US Open Tennis Championships Facts
1: Rafa Nadal Completed His Career Grand Slam
It probably came as a surprise to many that the US Open is where Rafael Nadal finally achieved his career Grand Slam. The year was 2010 and his opponent was Novak Djokovic. It was Rafa’s first finals appearance at the Open. He was only 24 years old.
2: Pete Sampras’ First and Last Major Won
The legendary Pete Sampras, who won his first major at the US Open in 1990, played his last official tennis match at the finals of the 2002 US Open, where he defeated his great rival, Andre Agassi to claim his 5th US Open title. A year later, Sampras officially announced his retirement from tennis.
3: The Beginning of the Williams Sister’s Dominance
It was here at The US Open where Venus and Serena Williams had their first glimpse of Grand Slam success. Venus’ first Grand Slam final was at The US Open in 1997. She ended up losing that match to Martina Hingis, but won back-to-back titles in 2000 and 2001. Serena’s Grand Slam finals debut was also at The US Open, in 1999, where she won her first Grand Slam tennis title at a tender age of 17. Venus currently has seven Grand Slam titles and Serena has seventeen.
4: Only Grand Slam with a Fifth Set Tiebreak
Of the four Grand Slams in tennis, only the US Open allows for tiebreaks in the final set. All other Grand Slams require a player to win the final set (third for the women, fifth for the men) by two games. A marathon match like Isner and Mahut’s at Wimbledon, which took over three days to complete, is therefore unlikely.
5: US Open Tennis has the World’s Largest Tennis Arena
The US Open’s main court, Arthur Ashe Stadium, is tennis’ largest arena. It has a capacity of over 23,000 spectators and plays host to the championship matches for both men and women. The stadium is named after the first African-American man to win the US Open Men’s Singles title in the Open Era.
6: Hawkeye Debuts at the US Open Tennis Championship
In 2006, instant replay was introduced in tennis through Hawkeye technology. It made its Grand Slam debut at the US Open that same year. Players are now given the opportunity to challenge line calls and are allowed to use a certain number per match.
7: Equal Pay for Men and Women’s Champions
The US Open Tennis Championships is the only Grand Slam up to date that offers equal prize money for both men and women’s champions. It has been that way since 1973. In addition to the equal prize money, the both men and women champions are awarded the same Tiffany & Co. designed trophy.
8: The Only Grand Slam Played on 3 Different Surfaces
The home of the US Open tennis championships hasn’t always been at Flushing Meadows and it wasn’t always played on hard courts. In fact, the tournament was first played on grass courts for a period of almost 100 years. In the mid-70s, the United States Tennis Association attempted green clay, or what is referred to as Har-Tru, before settling on the current hard court surface.
9: The US Open Tennis Championship is 134 Years Old
The US Open is the second oldest tennis major eclipsed only by The Championships at Wimbledon. The very first contest was held in 1881 in Newport, RI, the current site of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and only had men. It was not until 1887 when the first equivalent tournament was held in Philadelphia for women. The US Open tennis tournament was historically referred to as the US National Singles Championship.
10: More US Open Tennis Champions than Wimbledon
Despite Wimbledon’s claim to being the oldest tennis Grand Slam, there are actually more US Opens played and more champions crowned at the Open than at Wimbledon. This was due to the tournaments not played in London during the two world wars that affected much of Europe in the early and mid 20th century.
Thinking about going to the US Open? Hurry! Book your hotel in New York and get your tickets now!