US Open Tennis HIstory
Founded in 1881, the United States Open Tennis Championships is one of the four tennis majors comprising the Grand Slam and one of the oldest and most prestigious tennis championships in the world. As such, US Open tennis tickets are sought after by tennis fans around the globe and have become some of the most difficult tickets to procure in all of professional sports
The United States Open Tennis Championships is held annually during late August and early September, and is chronologically the fourth and final major tennis tournament. Tournaments held as part of the United States Open include men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles.
There are also tournaments held for senior, junior, and handicapped participants.
In 1881, the first version of the United States Open Tennis Championships was held in Newport, Rhode Island on the grass courts at Newport Casino. While US Open tennis tickets may be hard to come by today, it was even more difficult to get into the tournament back then with only a who’s who of the local elite in attendance. It was also quite difficult to get into the early US Open Tennis tournament as a competitor, as the first iteration was only open to members of the United States National Lawn Tennis Association (USNLTA). Richard Sears won the inaugural event, and would defend his title thereafter for seven years. Sears’ seven US Open Championships tie him with Bill Larned and Bill Tilton as the most won by any individual in the history of the tournament.
During the early years of the US Open tournament, then referred to as the US National Championship, it much easier to defend the championship than it was to steal it as a challenger. From 1884 until 1911, the US Open used a challenge system which meant that the defending champion would already be slotted into the championship, while the other players battled through the tournament for the chance to take the crown. Both Sears and Larned achieved their record seven US Open championships through this format.
In 1915, after a few years of push for a relocation of the US National Championship, it finally moved from Newport to West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, New York. The argument in favor of this move was that more tennis clubs were located in New York, and as such, more players and fans of the game. With a move to New York for the US National Championship, it was believed that the sport could grow and there would be increased fan activity and demand for US Open tennis tickets.
During the first six years of the US National Championship, only men could compete. In 1887, the first official US Women’s National Singles Championship was held at the Philadelphia Cricket Club and was won by 17 year old local, Ellen Hansell. The US Women’s National Singles Championship was accompanied by tournaments for women’s doubles and mixed doubles.
The five tennis tournaments (Men’s and Women’s Singles, Men’s and Women’s Doubles, and Mixed Doubles) would not merge to form the modern US Open until 1968. That year, the first official “US Open” was held at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills. Fans lucky enough to procure US Open tennis tickets for the inaugural US Open of the Open Era were able to see American legend Arthur Ashe capture his first career major championship. In 1997, Ashe was honored by the opening of Arthur Ashe Stadium, which replaced Louis Armstrong Stadium as the central venue of the US Open tournament. Arthur Ashe Stadium is the largest outdoor tennis-only venue in the world, with a capacity of 22,547 individual seats offering plenty of available US Open tennis tickets, albeit at a premium to many other tennis events.
Following the beginning of the Open Era, the 1970’s were a period of great innovation for the US Open. In 1970, the US Open added a unique twist in that it became the first Grand Slam tournament to use a deciding tiebreak in 6-6 sets. To this day, the US Open remains the only major to use a tiebreak in the deciding set rather than continuing play until a two-game lead is achieved. For the first four years of the tiebreak system, the US Open used best of nine sudden-death tiebreaker. In 1975, the US Open moved to the ITF best of twelve system.
In 1973, the US Open became the first Grand Slam tournament in which the Men’s and Women’s champions earned equal pay, symbolizing a great step forward in gender equality within tennis. The championship purse that year was $25,000 dollars. Today, US Open tennis tickets to one of the 90 luxury boxes at Arthur Ashe Stadium can cost more than the inaugural equal pay purse.
Two years later in 1975, the addition of floodlighting to West Side Tennis Club enabled night-time play for the first tie in US Open history. However, the tournament would relocate soon thereafter in 1978, to the far bigger USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, Queens. This switch enabled to a larger venue enabled increase sales of US Open tennis tickets, allowing for more fans to attend the event thus growing the popularity of tennis.
With the move to the USTA National Tennis Center began a period of American dominance in the US Open. From 1978 to 1984, all seven US Opens were won by either Jimmy Connors or John McEnroe, with McEnroe taking four titles and Connors taking three during that period. However, in 1985, Czechoslovakian Ivan Lendl avenged his three consecutive finals losses by defeating McEnroe en route to winning three consecutive US Open titles before losing two more in 88-89. Although he went 3-5, Lendl’s stretch of 8 consecutive US Open finals appearances is one of the most dominant stretches in US Open history.
In 1990, Pete Sampras would recapture the US Open for America when he defeated fellow American Andre Agassi. The two would go on to become the two most well-known and iconic tennis players of the 1990s, although Sampras was able to outduel Agassi in all three of the US Open championship duels. Agassi would go on to win two US Opens of his own, but his success pales in comparison to Sampras’ Open-era record five US Open titles, a record which he shares with Jimmy Connors and Roger Federer.
Sampras would win his final US Open title in iconic fashion, defeating Agassi in 2002. Andy Roddick, another American, would defend the US Open crown the following year. However, it has now been nine years since an American has captured the title. Following Roddick’s victory, Swiss native Roger Federer rattled off an unprecedented five consecutive US Open victories, before being defeated by Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro in 2009. The past four US Opens have been won by nationals of four different countries, and no American has made an appearance in the finals during this timeframe. Subsequently, in recent years, US Open tennis tickets have grown in popularity within international markets, and the event continues to grow successfully to this very day.
US Open Venue
The inaugural United States Open Tennis Championship was held in 1881 on the grass courts at Newport Casino in Newport, Rhode Island. At the time, Newport was a hotbed for tennis culture, housing numerous clubs for the vacationing elite possessing summer homes in the posh costal Rhode Island town. Newport Casino housed the US Open, at the time referred to as the Tennis National Championships, from its inauguration in 1881 until 1915. Today, there is still an active grass-court tennis club as well as an indoor club at Newport Casino, which unlike its moniker would suggest, has never housed a public gambling venue.
By the turn of the century, there was already a push among the governing bodies of tennis as well as the players to relocate the event to New York, where there were more tennis clubs located and greater accessibility to the game for tennis fans and enthusiasts. This also meant that more US Open tennis tickets could be sold to the public, and the game could further grow in popularity. In 1915, relocation efforts finally became a reality as the US Open moved to West Side Tennis Club at Forest Hills, New York. While there was a brief relocation of the US Open to Germantown Cricket Club in Philadelphia from 1921-1923, West Side Tennis Club hosted the event during every other year between 1915 and 1977.
It turned out that the governing bodies of tennis were correct, and the game’s popularity soared upon the US Open’s move to New York. By 1923, the success of the US Open catalyzed the construction of a new venue at the West Side Tennis Club. The 14,000 horseshoe-shaped West Side Stadium still stands today, and greatly grew fan access to the tournament via the increase in available US Open tennis tickets. However, by 1978, the US Open Tournament would outgrow even West Side Tennis Club.
Since 1978, the United States Open Tennis Championships has been held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, New York. The complex is home to 22 courts, with 11 additional courts in the adjacent part. The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center possesses three stadiums which are among the largest in the world, with the premier Arthur Ashe Stadium sitting atop the list at a capacity of over 23,000… that’s a lot of US Open tennis tickets to sell!
The 33 tennis courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center all possess the DecoTurf composite surfaces, which are comprised of a combination of acrylic, rubber, and silica, among other materials, on top of a hard base (typically asphalt or concrete). Because the center is a public park, when the US Open is not taking place at the complex for 11 months of the year, the courts are open for public play so long as there are no other tournaments taking place at that time.
Arthur Ashe Stadium, the crown jewel stadium of the US Open, was constructed as part of a major overhaul project for the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center back in 1995, in response to rumors that the tournament could be relocated to San Diego. In 1997, the newly constructed stadium replaced the older Louis Armstrong Stadium as the central court for the US Open. The Stadium is of course named after Arthur Ashe, the man who won the inaugural 1968 US Open as part of the Grand Slam era in which professional tennis players could compete.
The massive stadium cost $254 million dollars to build, and has done wonders to promote the sport of tennis in America through housing America’s premier tennis tournament. Arthur Ashe Stadium features 22,547 individual seats to go along with 90 luxury suites, restaurants, and lounges. With all sorts of amenities and an impressive aura as the world’s largest outdoor tennis venue, it is no wonder that US Open tennis tickets at Arthur Ashe Stadium command a significant premium over other tournaments in America.