One of the best kept secrets of the U.S. Open is now a full-fledged event.
The public can walk through the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for free from Aug. 21 through Aug. 26 and see players participate in the U.S. Open Qualifying Tournament.
That’s when over 250 hopefuls vie for 16 coveted spots in each of the men’s and women’s singles draws.
In addition, fans can catch some of the top tennis players in the world as they practice at courts around the sprawling Queens complex. This span of days when the public can walk through the tennis center without a ticket has been dubbed “Fan Week.”
The Grand Slam tournament — which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year — officially kicks off on Aug. 27.
“We want more people to get inspired by the U.S. Open, to get engaged with our sport and we are using fan week as a way to do it,” said Chris Widmaier, a spokesman for the United States Tennis Association. “Everything is free and everything is open.”
Visitors can purchase a variety of eats including Korilla BBQ, Fuku, Angry Taco, Farm2Fork and Curry Kitchen. Tennis gear and U.S. Open merchandise will be available at several shops.
For the first time, members of the public are allowed to join for Media Day, when reporters interview players. Media Day will be held on Aug. 24 at the new Louis Armstrong Stadium. This is also the first year that Legends Matches are being held during fan week, according to the Association, although names and specific dates have not yet been released.
Queens isn’t the only place you can catch some Fan Week action. Defending U.S. Open champions Rafael Nadal and Sloane Stephens are scheduled to be part of the two-day U.S. Open Experience events at Brookfield Place on Aug. 22 and Aug. 23. The draw unveiling takes place at the lower Manhattan site — which includes a full-sized tennis court — on Thursday along with other activities.
“We realize not everybody gets out to Queens, so we wanted to bring some of the energy and excitement of the U.S. Open into Manhattan,” said Widmaier.