This was my third U.S. Open –as a spectator, not a player. I loved it every time because I got to see amazing tennis matches and enjoyed the atmosphere. Here’s what I learned from experience:
We always went over the Labor Day weekend. Not the best time to go because crowds are large and New York is chock-full of visitors, as if the city weren’t popular enough the rest of the year. So avoid this holiday weekend if you can.
Whenever possible, get reserved seats at Grand Stand and Louis Armstrong for a couple of reasons. You are assured a place to sit. If you want to leave the stadium and come back later, you may have to wait in line but you still have a place to sit. I have had to wait a whole match to go to the restroom or eat or drink because I knew that if I left, I’d lose my seat. People simply sit wherever they want, so you may have to fight for your reserved seat. Actually, people know they aren’t supposed to be in your seat so most leave with their tail between their legs.
Wear comfortable shoes! You end up walking a lot (to go to the different court, for bathroom breaks, to the food court and so on), so you want to make sure your feet survive the day. And it’s usually quite warm, which adds to the discomfort.
Take the train Number 7 to Flushing and get off at the Mets-Willets Point station (one before the end of the line).
Wear sunscreen and a hat. Or you’ll end up with “farmer arms” like me.
I learned that if you wear shorts, you either stick to the plastic seats or get burned by the metal seats that have been baking nicely in the sun. I chose to wear Bermuda shorts and skirts this year and was much more comfortable.
You can bring a decent-sized purse but backpacks and bigger bags are forbidden. You may have to check them in the bag tent outside (for a fee) or go back home.
Be mindful of what might distract the players: don’t yell their name when they’re about to serve, don’t move around the stadium during points, don’t litter! The wind blows plastic bags and paper napkins into the court sometimes and it’s very distracting. Besides, you wouldn’t do that at home, would you.
Outside food and drinks is not allowed but no one can object if you bring and empty bottle or Yeti and fill it up at one of the water fountains. You must stay hydrated after all.
Enjoy at least a Honeydeuce, the U.S. Open official cocktail (vodka, Chambord, lime juice and a melon ball) and bring back the glass as a memento.
I’m happy I got to see the last few matches ever in the old Louis Armstrong stadium before they tear it down. It’s kind of a historic event, at least in tennis history.
Bye bye, Louis!
I hope these tips help you enjoy one of the most important tennis events.