Our Dream Adventure at the US Open Tennis Championships

US Open tennis
The walk in from the subway to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center ~ Spectacular!

You do not need to be a fan of the game to be aware of the tremendous upset in the world of tennis. In the biggest surprise of the tournament, Roberta Vinci, an unseeded Italian veteran playing in her first Grand Slam semifinal, defeated Serena Williams, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. Williams’ dream of tying Steffi Graf’s Grand Slam record of 22 wins and to be the first person since Graf did it in 1988, to win four Grand Slam tournaments in one calendar year was shattered on September 11, 2015. However, my dream of attending this historic Amercian tennis tradition came true.

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A little personal tennis history~

I discovered the game of tennis when I was twelve. I knew what the US Open Tennis Championships were, but I never had any aspiration to go or any idea that I would ever attend. This was back in 1973 and we were not a traveling family. I did not get on my first plane until I was 16 and we took a wonderful family vacation to Hawaii.

From the day school was out I would ride my canary yellow, Schwinn ten speed bicycle, with my Chris Evert wood racket stuffed into my backpack, several miles to Arcadia Community Park where I played tennis with my best girl friends.

We played everyday in the summer and took breaks from the hot sun to drink a can of Tab from the vending machine inside the small tennis shop. The tennis shop was owned by Sven Davidson, who was the first Swede to win a Grand Slam event. We had no idea that this man with an accent had won the 1957 French Open. His son, Sven Jr., was a couple of years older than we were and was our friend too.

We would huddle around a tiny black and white television that “Big Sven” had in the shop and watched the US Open. I played tennis in junior high for fun and played all three years in high school. I stopped playing about ten years ago as it was just too much stopping and starting on my knees. I have always loved tennis, but never really thought much about going to a Grand Slam tournament. It was too big of an idea for me to handle back then.

In the last couple of years Craig and I put attending the historic US Open in Flushing Meadows, NY on our “adventures” list (we don’t call it a bucket list).

Our dream came true this year when we traveled to New York City and all of the stars were in perfect alignment. Rain and thunderstorms were imminent, but thankfully it did not rain on our day at the tournament. It had rained the day before and the two women’s semifinal matches were cancelled. Imagine buying tickets for an event of this magnitude and then to have it cancelled by weather? They pushed them to the next day and now all of the other semifinal matches and match times were changed and jammed into the one day we attended. It was quite confusing yet quite the tennis bonanza for us!

We stayed at the Grand Hyatt, which sits directly above Grand Central Terminal where all of the subway lines meet in downtown Manhattan. The hot tip is to take the #7 subway, seventeen stops (or take the express if it’s running) and exit at the Willets Pt- Shea Stadium exit. Then after just a 5 minute walk you will see the magnificent Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Hot,humid weather and tens of thousands of tennis enthusiasts poured into the event, but nothing could take away the pure excitement of actually being there.

The Grand Hyatt was the epicenter of the tournament where many athletes, officials and fans stayed. The excitement in the hotel was palpable and the Hyatt went all out and even dressed up the enormous lobby to commemorate the event.

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This piece of sculpture was dressed up for the US Open.

 

Grand Hyatt NY US Open
In the lobby of the Grand Hyatt – US Open decor in the fountain.

 

Grand Hyatt New York lobby decorated for the US Open
More festive US Open design in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt.

 

AA Stadium
Novak Djokovic vs. Marin Cilic – Men’s Semifinals

Arthur Ashe Stadium, gigantic and grand with gorgeous blue seats and a pristine green and blue court right in the heart of the stadium was amazing. We watched several matches during the day which included wheel chair singles, women’s doubles, mixed double semifinals and the two men’s semifinals. As an interesting side note, we watched Sam Querrey play in the mixed doubles match and we went to high school with his parents.

Sam Querrey serving during the mixed doubles match of the US Open
Sam Querrey serving during the mixed doubles match

 

The crowd watching in amazement as Serena Williams loses to Roberta Vinci
The crowd watching from the outside pavilion in amazement as Serena Williams loses to Roberta Vinci.

 

We also watched Serena’s record breaking dream broken on the big screen outside in the pavilion area. It also happened to be September 11th, in New York. There were remembrances held throughout the city and at the US Open, there was extra security as there was all over New York. But observing the crowd, the attendees were happily taking selfies, drinking their cocktails, buying souvenirs and generally really enjoying themselves. I told my husband how interesting I thought it was that everyone looked so happy on the 14th anniversary of the worst tragedy we have ever witnessed. His answer was simple, yet profound. He said “It makes perfect sense to me, everyone is celebrating being an American at a major American sports event and we won’t let anyone take that away from us.”

Djokovic being interviewed after he won the match with the American flag hanging above.
Djokovic being interviewed after he won the match with the American flag hanging above.

 

Roger Federer vs. Stan Wawrinka - Men's Semifinals US Open
Roger Federer vs. Stan Wawrinka – Men’s Semifinals

 

Roger Federer taking a drink during the US Open
Roger taking a sip on the big screen

 

Cilic and Djokovic taking a photo prior to the match
Cilic and Djokovic taking a photo prior to the match

 

Cottony clouds in a clear blue sky provided the perfect backdrop for all of my photos. I hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I did taking them on an extraordinary day at the US Open.

Outside Arthur Ashe Stadium
Outside Arthur Ashe Stadium

 

Another view outside Arthur Ashe Stadium
Another view outside Arthur Ashe Stadium

 

watching the US Open from the tables outside
There were two large screens where the spectators without tickets to the live match could watch from the tables outside.

 

Blue sky and clouds at the US Open
More blue sky and clouds

 

A view of the other courts from the top of Arthur Ashe Stadium
A view of the other courts from the top of Arthur Ashe Stadium

 

Five time Grand Slam Champion Marina Hingis playing tennis
Grand Slam Champion Martina Hingis playing in the mixed doubles semifinals. She and her partner Leander Paes went on to win the tournament.

 

Remarkable and thrilling, our eleven hour day spent at the US Open Tennis Championships was an adventure I will dream about for years to come.

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23 thoughts on “Our Dream Adventure at the US Open Tennis Championships”

  1. I didn’t know you played tennis, Suzanne, that’s awesome! 🙂
    I love the “adventures” list as opposed to the “bucket” list 😉
    Finally, I LOVE the statue at the hotel with the headband on it!
    What an adventure! Keep sharing. I have so much fun following you!

    Reply
    • Thanks Kim! Yes I loved playing, but I need to exercise in different ways now and just be a tennis spectator. We think “adventures list” is a little more positive. It was quite and adventure. Thanks so much for reading and for your comments.

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  2. I love the back story about Sven Davidson owning the shop. Staying at the Hyatt would have been amazing and would have added to the event for sure. But nothing would beat arriving at the stadium. A well thought out and informative post. 🙂

    Reply
    • Jan, thank you so much for your kind words, that means a great deal to me. I hadn’t thought about Sven in decades and when we attend the Open, all of those memories came flooding back.

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    • Thank you Betsy – I actually don’t believe in coincidence, so I know we were meant to be there on that day and enjoy the moment. I am very grateful.

      Reply
  3. Reading your posts just keeps showing me how much we have in common. I too grew up playing tennis, and played in highschool as well. But i took 15 years off of playing and then resumed playing from ages 35 to 53. During those years I played 3-4 times a week, on several USTA teams and never thought I would give it up until I did last year when I realized that recovering was harder and harder on my back. It was sad and over, but no regrets, I’ve moved on.

    But this hasn’t diminished my enthusiasm for watching. We went to the Australian open in 2014 and I got to sit next to Carlos Moya (still gorgeous!). And Our son goes every year to the US open; I hope to too. It’s funny that I never made it to the Open, even though i lived in NYC from 1980 to 1989. Oh well, someday!

    Reply
    • Heidi – It surely does seem that we have lots in common! We could make a list! How cool that you went to the Australian Open! Attending this iconic event was something I will never forget. What do you do for exercise now?

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  4. I want to go to the US Open. We have been to the Australian Open in Melbourne, totally awesome. We were in Paris for the French Open and saw an exhibition match at the Eiffel Tower, but din’t make it to Roland Garros. Loved your post.

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    • Thank you Paula! You have been to the AO so you know the excitement value. I think attending the French Open would be quite chic. I think Wimbledon is next on our list.

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  5. How exciting for you! Like you, I grew up playing so much tennis and watching Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Evonne Goolagong and so many other terrific tennis players. I still enjoy watching a great game. I can only imagine how much fun it must have been for you. Sad about Serena’s loss but that’s sports for you. You just never know who is going to rise to the challenge on any given day. Great post!

    Reply
    • Thank you Sue! I haven’t thought about Goolagong in years! I loved her too. So fun that we have tennis in common. Have you ever considered attending the Open?

      Reply

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