Playing tennis at Flushing Meadows, home of the U.S. Open, isn't just for the tennis pros. Sure, the U.S. Tennis Association welcomes the world's best players to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York, for the U.S. Open each August and September. But for 11 months of the year, the tennis center is open to the public for play. In fact, it's the largest facility available to the tennis-playing public in the world.
Playing at the National Tennis Center
Outside of U.S. Open season, the tennis center courts are open nearly every day year-round from 7 a.m. to midnight. The center has 12 indoor Deco-Turf courts, 19 outdoor (field) courts, and three stadium courts, which are for professional championship play. Rates per hour differ for indoor courts, ranging from $32 to $68, depending on what time and day you want to play. Outdoor courts can be played for $36 an hour.
Book your reservation on the center's website or call the tennis center to reserve a court. You can make a reservation up to two days in advance, but you must cancel 24 hours before you are scheduled to play if you find you can't make it at that time. You can also make reservations for tennis lessons given by pros at the tennis center. Rates vary depending on when you schedule your lesson.
Access to the tennis center is often limited to the west gate and its adjacent parking lot. Ask when reserving your court for the best way to enter and where to park.
Watching the U.S. Open
The U.S. Open Tennis Championships, which take place in August and September each at Louis Armstrong Stadium, which opened in 2018 and sports 14,000 seats. It is the first naturally ventilated stadium in the world, with openings on two sides and a retractable roof. The center's main stadium, Arthur Ashe Stadium, is the world's largest outdoor tennis venue, with 22,547 seats, five restaurants, and a two-level players' lounge. It recently was fitted with a new retractable roof. The Grandstand Stadium seats 8,125 people.
A variety of tickets are available to the Open, including early-tournament grounds passes and Championship Week sessions. The best way to score tickets is by signing up for the U.S. Open Insider list, which will alert you about upcoming on-sale dates.
The first U.S. Open was played in August 1881 on grass courts in Newport, Rhode Island. The Open was moved in 1915 to the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, Queens, where it stayed until 1977. The U.S. Open moved to the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows in 1978. The Singer Bowl, on the site of the 1964 New York World's Fair, was renovated and divided and became the original Louis Armstrong and Grandstand stadiums. A larger Louis Armstrong Stadium was built on the same footprint as the original two stadiums.