Thursday, 3 August 2017

Lifestyle: 9 things you didn’t know about the US Open

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These may surprise you. [sponsor content]

The US Open, beginning each year on the last Monday in August in Flushing Meadows, New York, is known for many things: being part of the Grand Slam tournaments, A-list celebrity sightings, delicious food, and, of course, unbelievable tennis matches between the world’s top players. People come from far and wide to watch this event, but even the biggest US Open fan doesn't know the whole story.

Here's a deeper dive into understanding the robust historical contributions to New York City, the game, and the logistics of running a multimillion-dollar tournament.

1. The tournament wasn’t always called the US Open

The US Open originally began in 1881 in Newport, RI and was known as the US National Singles Championship. The tournament had a two-year stint in Philadelphia before it was moved to New York in 1924. It wasn't until 1968 that the name US Open was used at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills and it took another 10 years — in 1978 — for the tournament fans are familiar with to move to Flushing Meadows, where it kept its now iconic name.

2. The competition made history with gender equality

The US Open is the first major tennis competition to offer equal prize money for men and women, starting in 1973, after women’s champion Billie Jean King threatened to organize a boycott of the tournament. King earned $10,000 for first prize in 1972 — only 40% of Ilie Năstase’s $25,000 award.

3. The land wasn’t always tennis-friendly

Long before hosting the largest tennis slam in the world, the 1,200-acre plot of land known as Flushing Meadows was completely wild marshland. In 1936, NYC Park Commissioner Robert Moses’ prepared it for the 1939-1940 World’s Fair, using a landfill to create a stable substrate to support vendors, exhibitions, and an iconic globe structure called the Perisphere.

4. A new dedication attracted some major names

On August 28, 2006, what was previously called the USTA National Tennis Center was rededicated as the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. John McEnroe, Venus Williams, Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, and others spoke at the rededication ceremony.

5. Not a single court goes to waste

The US Open uses all of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center’s 45 courts — four stadium courts, 13 tournament courts, 16 practice courts, and 12 indoor courts. Court 17 and the new Grandstand court are sunk seven feet below ground to create a more intimate environment for fans.

6. A paint job made the game easier for fans

Billie Jean King National Tennis Center was the first to paint its courts blue back in 2005. Research shows blue tennis courts create the strongest contrast, which helps the human eye spot a moving tennis ball. This also aids television viewers and live audiences alike. Blue tennis courts are now an aesthetic detail associated with the US Open.

7. One change made the game more fair

A game-changer was electronic line calling, which first debuted at the US Open in 2006. This simple, reliable technological upgrade has eliminated human error from this specific aspect of refereeing.

8. The retractable roof is enormous

Perhaps the most high-tech feature of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is its $150 million fully retractable roof atop Arthur Ashe stadium, completed for the 2016 US Open. It's the largest retractable roof for a tennis stadium in the world. In fact, Wimbledon’s entire Centre Court would fit through the 62,500-square-foot-opening.

9. There’s a historical landmark on the property

The site hosted the World Fair a second time from 1964-1965 with a new sculpture built on the foundation of the Perisphere: the Unisphere. On May 10, 1995, the Unisphere was given official landmark status by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Spectators at the US Open will be able to see the fully-restored Unisphere, complete with 96 fountains and floodlighting.

Find out how you can watch this year's US Open.

This post is sponsored by USTA.



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