U.S. Open returns to NYC: What to know about the tennis tournament

The top tennis stars are coming to Queens next week for the sport’s biggest tournament in the country.

The U.S. Open officially kicks off Monday and lasts until Sept. 11 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which has hosted the games since 1978. The tournament is the final competition in tennis’ annual grand slam events and one of the most popular in the world.

More than 700,000 people head to the courts to watch the games, with many coming from around the world. This year, fans will have a more comfortable environment as this will mark the first year that games are at Arthur Ashe Stadium with its $150 million retractable dome.

Qualifying matches, which are free to the public, started Tuesday and last until Friday. There are 32 men’s and women’s single spots up for grabs among the 256 entrants.

Those matches will serve as an appetizer for the big matches.

On the men’s side, all eyes will be on top-seeded Novak Djokovic, who is looking to defend his U.S. Open title from Andy Murray, who won Wimbledon last month. On the women’s side, Serena Williams, who won this year’s Wimbledon, is looking for a major comeback after she lost in last year’s semifinal match.

If Williams wins, she will break Steffi Graf’s record of 22 grand slam titles. Her main competition is Angelique Kerber, who won this year’s Australian Open, and Garbine Muguruza, who won at the French Open.

Non-sports fans can also take part in fun events.

On Saturday, the USTA will host Arthur Ashe Kids Day, featuring performances by Flo Rida and Zara Larson.

On the official opening night Aug. 29, Genesis lead singer Phil Collins will perform for the first time in six years. Yes, he will sing “In the Air Tonight,” in honor of that retractable roof.

The USTA will also take advantage of the new roof via nightly laser light shows.