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Flushing Meadows

india Updated: Aug 29, 2006 12:27 IST

Although the US Open itself is 120 years old, the competition has only been held in Flushing Meadows since 1978.

Ten years previously the US competitions were consolidated into one Open event in New York City at Forest Hills. The switch to the USTA National Tennis Center also heralded a return to the hard court surface after an experimental period on clay.

The move to Flushing Meadow opened up the game of tennis to a whole new audience. Previously considered an upper-class sport, the new venue gave the working-classes access to top quality tennis. Larger and more excitable crowds watched new, louder players such as Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe emerge to move tennis away from its country-club image.

The Arthur Ashe Stadium is the jewel in the venue's crown. It is named in memory of Ashe, who was the first black American champion in 1968. Opened in 1997, it is the largest tennis stadium in the world with seating for 23,000 spectators. It has a four-level structure which incorporates state-of-the-art broadcast and audio systems, 90 luxury suites, five restaurants and a multi-floor players' lounge.

The unique dimensions of the Arthur Ashe Stadium make for a special atmosphere whenever the stands are full. The emotions generated by more than 20,000 fans cascade down onto the relatively small tennis court at the heart of the venue.