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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 DecoTurf surface at the US Open is a fast surface, having slightly less friction and producing a lower bounce compared to other hard courts (most notably the Rebound Ace surface formerly used at the Australian Open). For this reason, many serve-and-volley players have found success at the US Open.
The main court is located at the 22,547-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium, opened in 1997. It is named after Arthur Ashe, the African American tennis player who won the men's final of the inaugural US Open in 1968. The next largest court is Louis Armstrong Stadium, opened in 1978, extensively renovated from the original Singer Bowl. It was the main stadium from 1978–96, and its peak capacity neared 18,000 seats, but was reduced to 10,200 after the opening of Arthur Ashe Stadium. The third largest court is the 6,000-seat Grandstand Stadium, attached to the Louis Armstrong Stadium. In 2011, Court 17 was opened as a fourth show court, with large television screens and electronic line calling which allows player challenges. Sunken into the ground, it has been nicknamed "The Pit". It initally held 2,500 with temporary stands, but will allow over 3,000 fans after its completion in 2012. It is located in the southwest corner of the grounds. Sidecourts 4, 7, and 11 each have a seating capacity of over 1,000.
All the courts used by the US Open are lighted, meaning that television coverage of the tournament can extend into prime time to attract higher ratings. This has recently been used to the advantage of USA Network—and now, ESPN2—on cable and especially for CBS, the American broadcast television outlet for the tournament for many years, which used its influence to move the women's singles final to Saturday night to draw better television ratings.
In 2005, all US Open (and US Open Series) tennis courts were given blue inner courts to make it easier to see the ball on television; the outer courts remained green.
The USTA National Tennis Center was renamed in honor of four-time tournament champion and tennis pioneer Billie Jean King during the 2006 US Open.
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