Tennis’ final major of the year gets underway in two weeks, with Naomi Osaka seeking to retain her title as she chases a fifth Grand Slam win.
This will be the 141st edition of the competition and the majority of the sport’s top stars are set to be in action.
Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s tournament:
What is it?
The US Open is a hard court tennis event and has been chronologically the fourth and final Slam of the year since 1987.
The tournament is the modern version of the U.S National Championships –– one of the oldest tennis championships in the world, which was first contested in 1881.
The first U.S Women’s National Singles Championship was held at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in 1887.
Nowadays, the competition consists of five primary championships: men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles.
Where is it?
Since 1978 the tournament has been played at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, New York City.
The grounds have 22 outdoor courts in total, which includes four “show courts”. These include the Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium, the Grandstand, and Court 17.
The main court is the Arthur Ashe Stadium, which opened in 1997 and holds 23,771 people.
This makes it the largest tennis venue by capacity in the world –– some 6,000 seats more than the O2 Arena in London.
When is it?
The US Open historically starts on the last Monday of August and runs for two weeks, with the middle weekend coinciding with the US Labor Day holiday.
Last year was no different, despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, though the tournament proved to be the second major of the year because of the rescheduling of the French Open and the cancellation of Wimbledon.
This season, the event is back to being the final Slam of the calendar year and will take place from August 31st – September 13th.
Serena Williams is aiming to compete as she chases a record-equalling 24th major title. The 39-year-old withdrew from the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to try and build up her fitness for this year’s event but her lack of match practice could be a concern.
Venus Williams also pulled out of the Cincinnati Open for an undisclosed reason, while world number four Sofia Kenin is nursing a foot injury, though she hopes to be fit in time for the tournament.
Defending champion Naomi Osaka returned to action at the Olympics after missing the last two Grand Slams with mental health struggles. However, she is yet to rediscover the imperious hard court form she showed throughout 2020 and the beginning of this year.
Wimbledon champion and world number one Ashleigh Barty suffered a shock first-round exit at Tokyo 2020 but the Australian will no doubt still be in contention.
The draw for this year’s event is yet to take place, but stay tuned here for updates.
How many fans are allowed?
Last year’s tournament saw spectators banned because of the threat of COVID-19, but 2021 is set to be far more accessible to the public.
The USTA had previously announced it would allow 100 percent capacity for the whole duration of the competition, but last week it announced fans would be banned from the qualifying rounds.
The main draw is still open to the public though and Arthur Ashe is expected to be full every day throughout the fortnight.
How to watch?
ESPN will broadcast the event in the United States, while UK viewers can watch the entire competition on Amazon Prime Video.