US Open USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

The 2018 guide to attending the US Open

by Kristin July 30, 2018

The US Open is celebrating its 50th anniversary this August. Arthur Ashe Stadium has a roof, Louis Armstrong Stadium has had a dramatic overhaul and many of the stars on both the WTA and ATP Tours are back in form after the injury-plagued 2017 season. The fourth Grand Slam of 2018 definitely has the potential to be a momentous event.

Planning on partaking in the celebrations and seeing world-class tennis? This guide elucidates what to bring, where to stay, what to wear, how to get to the venue and everything else you need to know to make the most out of the event.

Let’s start with the essentials...

US Open Basics

Keep up to date and find out more about the event via the website, as well as the official social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is Flushing Meadow - Corona Park, Flushing, NY 11368

Event dates:

Qualifying: August 21 - 24, 2018 (access to the grounds is free of charge)

Main Draw: August 27 - September 9, 2018

‘Fan Week’ starts on Tuesday August 21st with the ground open to fans to watch both qualifying matches and players already in the main draw train before the event.

2018 Prize Money:

Men’s / Women’s Singles Champions: $3.8 million
Men’s / Women’s Singles Runners Up: $1.85 million

Men’s / Women’s Doubles Champions: $700,000 per team
Men’s / Women’s Doubles Runners Up: $350,000 per team

Mixed Doubles Champions: $155,000 per team
Mixed Doubles Runners Up: $70,000 per team

2017 Defending Champions:

Men’s Singles: Rafa Nadal (Kevin Anderson was Runner Up)
Women’s Singles: Sloane Stephens (Madison Keys was Runner Up)

Men’s Doubles: Jean-Julien Rojer + Horia Tecău (Feliciano Lopez + Marc Lopez were Runners Up)

Women’s Doubles: Martina Hingis + Chan-Yung-jan (Lucie Hradecká + Kateřina Siniaková were Runners Up)

Mixed Doubles: Martina Hingis + Jamie Murray (Chan Hao-ching + Michael Venus were Runners Up)

Boy’s Singles: Wu Yibing (Axel Geller was Runner Up)
Girls Singles: Amanda Anisimova (Corie Gauff was Runner Up)

Purchasing tickets:

At the time of publishing, tickets are still available for individual and multiple sessions via the official tournament website. The seating maps for the main show courts (Arthur Ashe, Louis Armstrong and the Grandstand) are available to peruse online.

The good news is that it is much more simple to buy tickets for the US Open than it is for Wimbledon (this post explains all the peculiarities of buying Wimbledon tickets).  

For those looking for some of the best US Open seats, Championship Tennis Tours offers great tickets to individual sessions as well as complete packages which include: hotel accommodation, transfers, exclusive events and any other activities (tours, shows, other sporting events, etc.) that you might want to take advantage of while in NYC.  

Session timings:

America’s Grand Slam typically has two sessions per day: the day session commences at 11am and the evening session starts at 7pm. There are a couple of exceptions late into the second week of the event: on September 6th, there is only one session - the women’s Semifinals which start at 7pm.

On September 7th and 8th, there are two sessions kick off at noon and then at 4pm each day. On September 9th, the Women’s Doubles Final starts at 1pm before the Men’s Singles Final gets underway at 4pm. Of course inclement weather makes the schedule subject to change but the roof on Ashe Stadium ensures that rain won’t impact the order of play on that specific court.

Bag restrictions:

There will be a limit of one bag per person admitted onto the grounds. It’s important to note that backpacks are not allowed. All bags are subject to search and cannot be larger than 12"W x 12"H x 16"L. There will be no bag storage on the grounds. For a nominal charge, there is a bag storage facility located outside the East Gate and South Gate entrances.

Banned items:

The list of banned items is vast and worth taking a glance at in order to avoid getting your belongings confiscated:

  • Backpacks
  • Hard coolers or like containers
  • Sealed packages of any kind
  • Bottles or cans (glass or metal)
  • Aerosol cans or noise-making devices
  • Alcohol
  • Video cameras or recording devices (except for cell phones and SLR cameras with video or recording capabilities)
  • Computers or laptops
  • Weapons
  • Animals (unless a service animal)
  • Flags, banners or signs
  • Any materials constituting unauthorized advertising or promotion
  • Laser pointing devices
  • Tennis racquets
  • Drones (UAS-Unmanned Aircraft Systems) or other model aircraft
  • Selfie-sticks or other telescopic devices
  • Any other items deemed inappropriate or dangerous by US Open personnel, in their sole discretion

What to wear:

The requirements related to clothing for spectators are comically minimal. The website states the following:  “Shirts and footwear are required to be worn at all times. Do not wear any clothing or accessories with indecent, inappropriate, or offensive messaging or imagery”. In reality, dressing for comfort and variable weather is the best strategy.

The summer of 2018 has been exceedingly warm in many locations worldwide, so light layers coupled with a hat and sunglasses are a necessary starting point. If the typical mid-tournament transition from summer to fall takes place, bringing with it rain in the forecast and evening sessions that cool off, grabbing an umbrella and packing an additional layer (i.e. light scarf or cardigan) will come in handy.

How do you get to the grounds?

Flying into the NYC area:

The New York area has three large airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia (LGA) (which handles mostly domestic flights) and Newark International Airport (EWR). JFK Airport is situated in Queens, so it’s closest to the tournament site. However, all three airports are located in the greater NYC area so it’s reasonable to have airfare be the main consideration when booking your tickets.

On a trip like this where you’re casually dressed during the day while watching tennis and need to look more polished for your evening reservations it’s smart to pack with versatility in mind. Airlines everywhere have become increasingly (and exceedingly!) stingy with baggage allotments for economy tickets. In order to be on the safe side and avoid paying an unanticipated surcharge, travel with bags that work in a variety of circumstances. The Epirus collection was designed for active living, including travel. Plus, if you’re planning on playing tennis yourself during the US Open, the Epirus bags are a great option to fly with as they fit the guidelines issued by all major airlines.

Driving your own car:

If you’re driving, use the Van Wyck Expressway and Exit 12A - College Point Blvd or the Long Island Expressway (LIE/I-495) and Exit 22B – College Point Blvd.

This map of the grounds includes parking lot locations.


Take the RFK Bridge (formerly Triborough) to the Grand Central Parkway East. Exit the Grand Central Parkway East at Exit 9E – I-678/RT-25A East/Northern Boulevard East. Stay to the left and follow to the Van Wyck Expressway South. Exit the Van Wyck Expressway South at Exit 12A – College Point Blvd. Follow signs to US Open Parking.


Take the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE/I-278) East to the Grand Central Parkway East. Exit the Grand Central Parkway East at Exit 9E – I-678/ RT -25A East/Northern Boulevard East. Take the RT-25A East/Northern Boulevard East exit ramp toward the Mets stadium. At the 1st traffic light off the exit ramp, make a right onto Shea Road. Follow signs to US Open Parking.


Take the Long Island Expressway (LIE/I-495) West to Exit 22B - College Point Blvd. At first light, make a right on College Point Blvd. Follow signs to US Open Parking.


Take I-95 to the Whitestone Bridge to the Whitestone Expressway South. Stay to the left and take the Van Wyck Expressway. Exit the Van Wyck Expressway South at Exit 12A – College Point Blvd. Follow signs to US Open Parking. 


Take the George Washington Bridge to the Harlem River Drive, then to the RFK Bridge (formerly Triborough). Follow ""FROM MANHATTAN"" directions above.

Using taxis or Uber:

Yellow & Green Cab Service is located by exiting the East Gate and heading to the North side of the East Gate Boardwalk down on the Roosevelt street level. For Hire Vehicles along with Uber are located outside the South Gate past the Unisphere at the NY State Pavilion

Public transport:

Schedules for various options are available through the MTA.

Subway: The 7 train provides easy service from Grand Central Terminal to Mets-Willets Point Station, including connections for all Metro-North Trains from Westchester and Connecticut. Service is also available from the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Long Island Rail Road: LIRR provides service to Mets-Willets Point Station from Woodside, and convenient connections from Penn Station for New Jersey Transit customers.

Need help sorting out the most efficient route? When you’re doing combination of walking, hopping on public transport and taking cabs, the Citymapper app is a savior for locals and tourists alike.


Where to stay if you’re in New York for the US Open

The tournament facility is situated in Queens so if you can stay locally and avoid the transport mayhem, that’s always worth considering. Time Out has a guide of recommended hotels for the borough.

If Brooklyn is more your speed, you’re looking at about a half hour drive and hour subway ride to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre. Wallpaper magazine has provided a list of boutique hotels worth going through and there’s a bunch of options bookable through Tablet at various price points.

Thinking of finding a hotel in Manhattan? Travel + Leisure Magazine published a list in June with their top 15 properties and Town + Country Magazine has a (somewhat daunting) list of 50 appealing options. Depending on where you’re departing from in Manhattan, subways take approximately 45 minutes and taxis about 35 min. Note that these times are very best case scenarios as traffic jams and subway delays are commonplace and should be factored in.

Not ready to narrow down the location yet? Conde Nast has a list of the top hotels in the New York area that was published earlier this year so it’s solid place to start the search.

The two weeks of the event coincide with a very busy time of the year in New York so if you’re planning on attending the event book as early as possible to avoid steep last minute rates.


We hope our guide has pulled together the basic information you need to plan the fundamentals of your trip to the Big Apple. Feel free to add any local recommendations you want to add to the mix in the comments section below. 

Kristin Price
Kristin Price


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