In America’s annual sports calendar, the US Open is a big attraction for top celebrities from every field. These people come from business, sports, music, films, politics and many other fields. Regardless of their busy schedule, they manage to find time to make the annual trip to New York City to watch the world’s most famous tennis stars in action over two weeks from late August until the second week of September. The location of the US open since 1978 is a public park in the boroughs of Queens Area of New York City called Flushing Meadows, which lies between Van Wyck Expressway and Grand Central Parkway and stretches from Flushing Bay on the south edge of the LaGuadia Airport to Union Turnpike. The arena encompasses a) USTA’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which is the venue of the US open; b) Citi-Field, the home of New York Mets; c) New York Hall of Science; d) Queens Museum of Art; e) Queens Theater in the Park and f) the New York State Pavilion. Until 2009, it also had the Shea Stadium, which was later demolished.
Keeping with the traditions, several big personalities graced Flushing Meadows during the just concluded US Open 2014. In the final between Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic, Anna Kournikova, the former Russian women’s player was seen among the celebrity crowd, which included technology king Bill Gates, Hollywood superstar Bruce Willis and his wife Emma Heming-Willis. It was not clear whom these celebrities supported but they attracted the spotlight, while engrossed in watching Croatia’s Marin Cilic destroy the Japanese Kei Nishikori in a dominant 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 win in the US Open final on Monday. Kournikova had her moments on the WTA circuit, more as a stunning beauty than a top player. During her tenure, she was credited for attracting a large fan following for reasons other than tennis. Bill Gates and Bruce Willis are regular visitors and they might have been disappointed to be attending a match, which was largely one-sided. For celebrities, the men’s final was some kind of setback, since they were used to watching at least one out of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray or Roger Federer in the final for the last 9 years. But none of these featured in the final on Monday. Though Kei Nishikori was beaten in the tournament, he gave a new leash of life to Tennis in Japan.
Hollywood star Eva Longoria was seen in her casual best during the women’s final, which also was a one-sided affair as World No 1 Serena Williams was far too good against her best friend Caroline Wozniacki. Longoria’s “Desperate Housewives” co-star Vanessa Williams also made an appearance during the match. Serena emerged a runaway 6-3, 6-3 victor and her victory went to the record books as she equaled the feat achieved by a few tennis greats like Navaratilova and Chris Evert, who also won 18 Grand Slam titles in their careers. Both ladies were present to handover the coveted trophy to Serena.
Roger Federer was a big hit with the celebrity crowd as he found supports from different sections of the society. “Hey Baby” hit-maker, Gwen Stefani was amongst the many, who cheered for Federer with her lungs at full power on a day, when Marin Cilic upset the great Swiss in the semifinal. Cilic walked away with a sensational straight sets victory beating 17-time Grand Slam winner Federer 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday. Stefani’s 6-month old son also made his celebrity debit during the match, which also saw American World Cup alpine ski-racer, Lindsey Vonn. As a member of the US ski team Vonn is credited with finishing either first or second in four World Cup championships, other than representing USA in winter Olympic Games. A regular in Federer’s box during the tournament was basketball’s Hall of Fame star Michael Jordan. He was seen practically in every match that Federer played. Although, Federer and Jordan have only recently become friends, they share a unique bond. It was not a good day for Federer as the powerfully built Cilic, who had lost to the great Swiss in their last five meeting, came with a super performance to upset the legend on Saturday. Cilic completed the rout of the second seeded Federer with three aces and a scorching winner on the backhand.
During the men’s semi-final match, which saw top seed Novak Djokovic trounced by Japan’s Kei Nishikori, Martina Navratilova proposed to longtime girlfriend Julia Lemigova at US Open Tennis Championships. The 57-year-old tennis great was a regular commentator for men’s matches but she found time during a break to propose to Lemigova. The moment was telecast on Jumbotron, a large screen television, at the New York’s Arthur Ashe stadium. Spectators were privy to watching Navratilova going down on one knee to offer a diamond-studded ring to Lemigova, who said yes.
Other celebrities seen at the US open included; New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, “Gossip Girl” star Chace Crawford, Hip-hop star Common, Sofia Vergara, Susan Sarandon, Jonathan Bricklin, Luke Wilson, Wills Ferrel, super model and TV host Heidi Klum, Hugh Jackman, Jeremy Peven and Bridget Moynihan,