History of US Open
The US Open, formally the United States Open Tennis Championships, is a hardcourt tennis tournament which is the modern iteration of one of the oldest tennis championships in the world, the U.S. National Championship, which for men's singles was first contested in 1881. Since 1987, the US Open has been chronologically the fourth and final tennis major comprising the Grand Slam each year; the other three are the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. It is held annually in August and September over a two-week period (the weeks before and after Labor Day weekend). The main tournament consists of five different event championships: men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles, and mixed doubles, with additional tournaments for senior, junior, and wheelchair players. Since 1978, the tournament has been played on acrylic hard courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, New York City.
The US Open has tiebreaks in every set, including the last set. The other three Grand Slam tournaments have tiebreaks in every set other than the last set (i.e. the fifth set for men and third set for women), and therefore their last set continues indefinitely until a two-game lead is reached.
The US Open has grown from an exclusive entertainment event for high society to a championship for more than 600 male and female professional players who, as of 2008, compete for total prize money of over US$21 million, with $1.5 million for each winner of the singles tournaments.
In the first few years of the United States National Championship, only men competed. The tournament was first held in August 1881 at the Newport Casino, Newport, Rhode Island and in that first year only clubs that were members of the United States National Lawn Tennis Association were permitted to enter. From 1884 through 1911, the tournament used a challenge system whereby the defending champion automatically qualified for the next year's final. In 1915, the tournament moved to the West Side Tennis Club at Forest Hills, New York. From 1921 through 1923, it was played at the Germantown Cricket Club in Philadelphia and returned to Forest Hills in 1924.
Six years after the men's nationals were first held, the first official U.S. Women's National Singles Championship was held at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in 1887, accompanied by the U.S. Women's National Doubles Championship (not held for the next two years) and U.S. Mixed Doubles Championship (not held in 1899). Between 1890 and 1906 sectional tournaments were held in the east and the west of the country to determine the best two teams, which competed in a play-off to see who would play the defending champions in the challenge round.
The open era began in 1968 when all five events were merged into the US Open, held at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, New York. The 1968 combined tournament was open to professionals for the first time. That year, 96 men and 63 women entered the event, and prize money totaled $100,000 ($631,286 today).
In 1970, the US Open became the first of the Grand Slam tournaments to use a tiebreak at the end of a set. The US Open is also the only Grand Slam that continues to use the tiebreak in the 5th set. All the other three grand slams play it out with service games in the 5th set.
Jimmy Connors is the only individual to have won US Open singles titles on all three surfaces, while Chris Evert is the only woman to win on two surfaces.