By Rachel Vick
The 2019 US Open kicked off Monday morning with unranked pros vying for a final spot in the illustrious tournament, held each year the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Park.
The Qualifying Tournament is the cornerstone of Fan Week, in which the tennis center opens its doors for free matches and events.
During the qualifying rounds, a field of 128 competitors on the men’s and women’s sides is whittled down to the final 16 contenders, who earn spots in the main competition. There are also open practices featuring top competitors, legends matches on Wednesday through Friday and a women’s doubles match featuring stars Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin, Lindsay Davenport and Aranxta Sanchez Vicario
Wednesday’s activities include Queens Day, highlighting the competition’s home borough and celebrating the community’s culture with performances and exhibitions from local groups.
Thursday’s ‘Open Pride’ event will showcase athletic contributions of the LQBTQ community. A panel featuring athletes like Billie Jean King and Olympic Figure Skater Adam Rippon will feature a conversation on being out in the world of professional sports
The 24th Arthur Ashe Kids Day will be one of several events throughout the week geared toward children. The Net Generation Kids Zone will offer sporting activities and games for participants.
There also will be performances and concerts throughout the week, including sets from Brett Eldrige and Leon Bridges.
When the main tournament kicks off next week, Serena Williams will compete alongside Naomi Osaka from Japan, who holds the Women’s Tennis Association’s number 1 spot. Rafal Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are all set to take the court.
The Singles tournament winners will receive a $3.8 million prize and the total player compensation fund reaches a record high $57 million.
The U.S. Open has taken place in Queens for most of its 138-year history. It moved from Rhode Island to Forest Hills Stadium in 1923 and to its current home in 1978.
The competition’s main draw will run from Aug. 26 until the finals on Sept. 8.
A full schedule of events can be found at the U.S. Open website.