The U.S. Open is the fourth and final tennis major comprising the Grand Slam, following the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. The two-week tournament draws approximately 700,000 visitors each year to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. The event is unique in its own right. Here’s what some of this year’s participants think of the U.S. Open.
John Isner won his first-round match 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 against Pierre-Hugues Herbert on Monday at the temporary Louis Armstrong Stadium as the new 14,000-seat facility with retractable roof is set to open in 2018. The transitory structure didn’t faze the No. 10 seed.
“It’s a very different feel, of course, than old Armstrong,” Isner said. “But the court itself, I really enjoyed. I guess it’s just a one-year thing. I liked playing out there. I wouldn’t mind playing out there again. It was a good court. … Ever seen the old movie Hoosiers? Every basket is 10 feet. A tennis court is a tennis court. It’s the same. Visually maybe a little bit different. After a couple games, you get used to it. That’s all there is to it.”
While Louis Armstrong Stadium is going through a transitional stage, Arthur Ashe Stadium is in celebration. The grounds’ main arena is celebrating its 20th anniversary, having opened Aug. 25, 1997.
Venus Williams, the No. 9 seed, won her first-round match against Viktória Kužmová 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 on center court Monday afternoon.
“It’s massive. When I was flying in, we flew right over it,” said Williams, a two-time Open champion. “There’s a certain excitement, I get to play there. It’s a privilege. It’s an honor. I take it quite seriously. Everybody does. It’s just been, you know, a dream come true, to continue to come back.”
Williams made her U.S. Open debut in style in 1997 as a 17-year-old, losing in the final to Martina Hingis.
Garbiñe Muguruza is looking to win consecutive Grand Slam events following her victory at Wimbledon in July. Muguruza, the No. 3 seed, cruised past Varvara Lepchenko 6-0, 6-3 in the first round of the U.S. Open on Monday.
The 2016 French Open champion has struggled at the U.S. Open, losing in the first round in 2012 and 2014 and being bounced in the second round in ’15 and ’16. Despite the results, that hasn’t stopped her from enjoying her time in New York.
“I like it here,” Muguruza said. “I always say that, you know, I love a big stage. I love to go on Arthur Ashe, have the crowd enjoying the match. I just thought with the matches that I played in the past tournaments (here), I just think it didn’t go my way. It’s as simple as that because I always come prepared and happy.”
David Goffin‘s first appearance at the U.S. Open was in 2012. He took a double-decker bus tour through New York City to get a feel for the city and its people. The No. 9 men’s seed opens his 2017 Open campaign Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s one of the best tournaments in the world,” Goffin said. “It’s always special to come back here in New York and play this tournament with a lot of people and an amazing atmosphere in the stadiums. It can be amazing on the center court (Arthur Ashe Stadium), which is the best center court in the world. It’s amazing and I’m excited to be here.”
American Sloane Stephens has been playing at the U.S. Open since 2011 (though she missed 2016 Open with a foot injury). Stephens defeated 2015 runner up Roberta Vinci 7-5, 6-1 in the first round Monday.
While Stephens hasn’t had a chance to see all of the changes around the grounds, that doesn’t stop her from exploring New York City, especially its cuisine.
“La Esquina is my favorite restaurant, then Miss Korea,” she said. “You should go.”