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US OPEN HISTORY

The US Open celebrates its 122nd anniversary in 2003. The championship has come a long way in the 121 years since it was first held.

india Updated: Aug 24, 2003 18:08 IST
PTI

The US Open celebrates its 122nd anniversary in 2003. The championship has come a long way in the 121 years since it was first held. It was come to be the richest tennis tournament in the world, with the prize money totalling over $14.5 million.

Among the four Grand Slam events, the US Open is the only one that has been willing to change its name, location, choice of playing surface and even the rules.

The event first came about after the US Lawn Tennis Association was founded in May 1881 and its members decided to hold a national championship.

In August 1881, 26 men players entered the inaugural competition— called the US National Singles Championship— that was held at the Newport Casino, Rhode Island.

Only players from clubs who were members of the US National LTA were eligible to enter.

Richard Sears became the first singles winner. On his way to claiming his first US Open title, Sears did not drop even one single set. Not only that, he remained the men’s singles champion till 1887. He still retains the record of most consecutive titles.

But things were easier for him than in the present day as until 1911, a challenge system was used whereby the defending champion automatically qualified for the next year's final.

It was only in 1887 that women entered for the first time in the championship. But the venue was separate for them -- the Philadelphia Cricket Club. Ellen Hansell took the first women’s title.

Today, the US Open remains an event revered for its history and respected for its drama.