It's certainly something else to see how the famous do the U.S. Open. On Monday, I had the good pleasure of an invitation to the USTA president's suite and box seats in Arthur Ashe Stadium at the (deep breath) Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. (Or the USTABJKNTC, if you will.) In the interest of full disclosure, I am the volunteer chair of a USTA social media and web committee, a gig that catalyzed this outing. In any case, the view of the match between Ana Ivanovic and Tsvetana Pironkova was unrivaled. Also uncanny: The lunch in the dining room, where one must wear a jacket so as to graze on a full meal (including meaty and veggie and, sure, "chegan" options).
The food was fantastic, and the Honey Deuce drinks downed in that set could hardly be crafted before they were enjoyed and followed with more. It was a great day also as the celebrity quotient was concerned: VOGUE
editor Anna Wintour, singer-actress Vanessa Williams, thespian Alan Rickman (Harry Potter
's Severus Snape, for one), former New York City mayor David Dinkins (a friend of Monica Seles), and one Jennifer Capriati were all on hand at one point. Williams ("the other V. Williams"?) is flat-out gorgeous in person
, and a delight to boot. She was genuinely kind and patient to take a photo just after she made a phone call.
Capriati was not present for too long, arriving after Ivanovic's victory and Serena Williams' double-bagel demolition of Andrea Hlavackova. She intended to see Roger Federer take on Mardy Fish, but the American pulled out of that tantalizing contest, which Capriati noted with chagrin to USTA president Jon Vegosen in his suite. She then took in about five games of the Marin Cilic-Martin Klizan match moved to Ashe Stadium as substitutionary entertainment before departing from the suite and box. It's an initiative of Vegosen to bring about the arrivals of more former top pros and U.S. Open champions. Vegosen himself prepared in the suite with a couple members of his team, as a New York Times interviewer was expected.
Then there was Ms. Wintour. Her bag itself was the envy of a few women on hand, and her dress, a Caroline Herrera print, boasted puppies. Lots of puppies. I am not kidding. See it here on a mannequin
, and here again on the grand editrix herself
, as she regarded Ivanovic's win-in-process from the top of the box. Wintour was accompanied by a male friend, and she actually chatted gamely with a friend and colleague of mine at a shared lunch table. I did not see her imbibe; the woman is the consummate professional to end all other professionals. I can tell you from sitting just two seats to her right that she also is subtly fanatical about Serena's tennis game, especially when the younger Williams sister is routing an overmatched foe. Wintour nearly gasped at two winners cracked by Serena's racquet, and she exclaimed when the No. 4-seeded star slammed one ace up the tee. Kudos to Wintour for sticking around for a few games of Cilic-Klizan as well, despite her chum Federer's missing-in-action status.
For what it's worth, here is your dear author
perched on the front rail of the president's box in Ashe Stadium, and here again
with good friends Nick McCarvel and Erwin Ong, former co-leads on the Tennis Served Fresh blog
and now working for a few more media outlets involved with the sport.
Who is your own favorite celebrated or notorious person to see at the U.S. Open?
There's no seamless way to end this dispatch, and so I will leave it at this: CBS needs to change its ShotTracker graphic
. It simply suggests other things.