The US Open has finally joined its fellow Grand Slam tennis hosts, Wimbledon and the Australian Open by getting a retractable roof at its main stadium. With most Grand Slam tournaments (and perhaps several other tennis tournaments) affected by rain, the lack of a roof has previously delayed play, and sometimes led to its cancellation altogether. But as tennis stadiums across the world modernize, so too has the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which is located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, in Queens.
The retractable roof at the Arthur Ashe stadium was unveiled Tuesday with Billie Jean King herself in attendance. Also present was Jeanne Ashe, the wife of late tennis legend, Arthur Ashe, after whom the stadium is named. This particular roof comes equipped with some pretty neat features. The roof is comprised of two panels that sit atop a 6,500 ton steel superstructure. This is covered with a special fabric that allows for the sun to reflect off of the panels and make the stadium more energy efficient.
What’s more, the roof can be opened or closed in under seven minutes — a bit of a boasting point, as it bests the speed of the prestigious Center Court stadium at Wimbledon, which needs anywhere between 8-10 minutes to close.
But it’s not just the Arthur Ashe stadium that got some love from the United States Tennis Association (USTA). The Grandstand Stadium at the Tennis Center also underwent a major renovation. That stadium can now accommodate 8,125 seats, which is an increase of 2,000 seats.
Of the four Grand Slam tournaments that are held each year, the US Open will now be the third with a stadium that has a retractable roof. First to make the transition was the Australian Open, which got a retractable roof with the Rod Laver Arena when that opened in 1988. Wimbledon followed over two decades later when a roof was installed over Center Court in 2009. The only one now left is the French Open or Roland Garros as it known, where a retractable roof over Court Philippe Chatrier, has already been delayed several times.
So for tennis fans (and for the players too of course) making their way to the Arthur Ashe Stadium for the US Open, which gets underway in less than a month, they’ll finally be able to stop worrying about delays come rain or shine.