I have had the good fortune of covering the US Open for more than a decade and this year’s opening weekend festivities have never been so compelling. Starting with Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day to the opening night’s final point, fans got a small taste of what looks to be a great two and half weeks of tennis.
Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day is the official kick-off of the Open and the First Lady Michelle Obama addressed the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium with an inspiring speech on the virtues of a healthy lifestyle. The First Lady was joined by numerous entertainers, including singers Fifth Harmony and Coco Jones, as well as tennis stars Serena Williams, Donald Young and Sloane Stephens, among others, who participated in a skills competition. Although the stars were the attraction, the main goal of the day was to provide new and old tennis fans that would normally be on the outside looking in access to the sport. And, if that was the focus of the day, the United States Tennis Association definitely succeeded on its mission!
The Opening Ceremony and the first day of matches picked up where Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day left off. Stephens, ranked 15th in the tournament, survived her first round match, coming back on numerous occasions to defeat unranked Mandy Minella 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) in a grueling two-hour and 48-minute battle. Both Serena, the First Lady of Tennis, and her older sister Venus cruised to opening-round victories. Rafael Nadal made short work of American Ryan Harrison in their first-round match. Rodger Federer’s Monday match was postponed due to rain.
At least they got the Opening Night Ceremony in before the clouds opened up. USTA President Dave Haggerty and Billie Jean King honored Mayor Michael Bloomberg with the Key to the National Tennis Center. Rock star Lenny Kravitz also made a one song cameo appearance before the evening session commenced.
If the first couple of days were any indication of what’s to come then we are in for one hell of a tournament. The US Open always provides us with entertaining drama and this year should not be any different.