The US Open is one of the oldest and most cherished professional tennis tournaments and is proudly listed as one of the 4 Grand Slam events in the world. Today, the courts of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center feature dazzling performances from the likes of Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray, but long ago the US Open was quite a different type of tennis tournament.
Before 1911, the previous year’s champions was gifted a place in the final match, known as the “challenge” round. Meanwhile, the rest of the participants would compete for the honor to face the US Open Champion. This occurred in both the Men’s and Women’s Singles tournaments.
Naturally, the well-rested and dominant player would often have an easy outing, as evidenced by Richard Sears’ still standing record of 7 US Open Men’s victories. William Larned would match that feat, but in 1911 the rule changed and previous champions had to compete throughout the whole tournament. This enabled fans to watch the US Open’s best player battle through the entire draw, not just compete in the final.
Nevertheless, since the rule change several players have made strong runs at the US Open and have amassed a wealth of US Open Championships. Molla Mallory won 8 US Open victories in the Women’s tournament between 1915 and 1926, setting the all-time record for US Open Championships.
Bill Tilden also matched the 7 Men’s titles in the 1920’s. No one has since matched that amount though several have come close; Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, and current star Roger Federer each have 5 US Open titles. For the women, Chris Evert achieved 6 US Open titles in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Current star Serena Williams has 4. Will either Roger Federer or Serena Williams extend their victories at the 2013 US Open and push for a record? Time will tell.
Featured image credit: em1185.
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