Round 2. Williams def Gasparyan

Announcer Andy Taylor. 2020 US Open. Round 2 Serena Williams
Announcer Andy Taylor | Voice of the US Open | 2020 US Open Tennis Championships

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[vector_icon icon=”fas fa-microphone”] Match Recap from Announcer Andy Taylor, Voice of the US Open

Serena Williams advances to Round-3

Interesting take from Serena Williams after earning her 103rd career US Open match victory tonight: There’s actually something “calming” about playing on the sport’s biggest stage without fans.

In the past 23-years of professional tennis, the 23-time Major Champion has seen it all. But, there’s always been one constant: The buzz — the energy — the fans. Positive, negative or indifferent (no moment is exactly the same), there has always been “atmosphere” created by ticket buyers. Just think back to the trophy presentation here in Arthur Ashe Stadium two years ago. Yikes.

In fact, that tremendously uncomfortable, yet indelible moment truly speaks to what Serena is saying. While a Grand Slam isn’t “better” without fans – it is more “manageable.” Definitely from an organizational perspective, but also for the players mentally.

In critical moments of each match, fans on-site are along for the ride, on the edge of their seats, emotionally vested in the moment. That collective tension is palpable, heaping additional pressure on players simply trying to execute. That constant of professional sports is now removed from the equation because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“Pressure is a privilege,” said the great Billie Jean King. For those dependent on that pressure as motivation — this will not be an easy fortnight.

Now two matches in, Serena is tapping into her roots, harnessing the pressure from within to propel her further. Next up, 2017 US Open Champion Sloane Stephens.

Announcer Andy Taylor. 2020 US Open. Round 2 Serena Williams Match Recap

Head to Head: Third meeting between these two players

Announcer Andy Taylor. 2020 US Open. Round 2 Serena Williams Head to Head

[3] Serena Williams -08- (USA) | Round-2 Announcer Introduction

She captured her first Grand Slam title here in Arthur Ashe Stadium at 17-years-old. Today, she owns 23 Majors and 4 Olympic Gold Medals. From Palm Beach Gardens, Florida – 6-time US Open Champion Serena Williams.

  • R2 — W | Margarita Gasparyan -117- (RUS) | Score: 6-2, 6-4
  • R1 — W | Kristie Ahn -96- (USA) | Score: 7-5, 6-3 | RECAP
Margarita Gasparyan -117- (RUS) | Round-2 Announcer Introduction

She owns 2 WTA Singles titles, 4 Doubles titles, is a Fed Cup Finalist – and in 2016, reached the Doubles Semi’s at Roland Garros. Making her Arthur Ashe Stadium debut – From Russia, Margarita Gasparyan.

  • R1 — L | [3] Serena Williams -08- (USA) | Score: 2-6, 4-6
  • R1 — W | Monica Puig -91- (PUR) | Score: 6-3, 6-7(0), 6-0

A New Reality | 2020 US Open Tennis Championships

In late February and early March, announcer Andy Taylor compèred two of the final professional tennis events before the global coronavirus pandemic put the skids on the 2020 season. In Doha, he hosted Aryna Sabalenka’s relentless run to the Qatar Total Open title. Then in Honolulu, he emceed Team USA’s Davis Cup Qualifier victory over Uzbekistan. Including Bob and Mike Bryan’s final professional match.

As U.S. coronavirus cases continued to mount, the day following Team USA’s 4-0 victory, all professional sports came to a grinding halt. Over the next five months, as Americans stayed home and “socially distanced,” nearly 6-million contracted the illness. Tragically, over 180-thousand perished. Worldwide, COVID-19 killed over 840-thousand and sickened 25-million (at the time of this writing).

New York hosts the resumption of the 2020 tennis season

Early on, New York City was the epicenter of COVID’s outbreak. The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center became prime real estate for New York’s coordinated pandemic response. Additionally, the state used Louis Armstrong Stadium as a warehouse to pack meals for patients, front-line workers and students dependent on the city’s school lunch program.

In late July, after New York “flattened the curve,” Governor Cuomo green-lighted the USTA’s plans to resume the 2020 tennis season in Flushing. Without fans. Without qualifying. Rather, the Western & Southern Open moved from Cincinnati to the grounds of the US Open. Furthermore, the USTA implemented strict COVID-19 testing policies. It limited the number in each player’s entourage. Additionally, it created a protective “Bubble” for all tournament participants at nearby hotels and on-site.

Andy Taylor | 19th US Open Tennis Championships

After a five month pause, with the coronavirus “politicized” and still spreading unchecked through portions of the population, Andy was hesitant when asked to be a part of the sport’s return. However, after carefully considering the USTA’s extensive health and safety protocols, he soon realized the US Open could in fact be one of the safest environments to avoid COVID’s spread.

Masks are mandatory. For crew, testing occurs every fourth day. To ensure best broadcast quality, the USTA understood that Arthur Ashe Stadium’s announcer would need to work without a mask. Therefore, they isolated Andy in his own booth. Thus, keeping production team members free from aerosols emitted during player introductions.

Rather than fly, Andy drove to Flushing. He uses his own vehicle to shuttle back and forth from the hotel to the venue, which limits his exposure to others. Additionally, this allowed Andy to bring his own hot plate and coffee machine, completely eliminating the need for others to bring him meals and supplies. Essentially, the Voice of the US Open is working from a bubble within “The Bubble.” Responsibly limiting contact with colleagues and players as much as humanly possible.

A new Grand Slam Global Pandemic Presentation

With the global emphasis on social distancing to avoid further outbreaks of COVID-19, the world of sport production is reinventing “the show” by harnessing new technologies that have emerged over the past decade. As always, the core goal is to meet fans where they are.

In other words, with fans exclusively watching on television – or on-the-go through mobile devices – the 2020 US Open “stadium show” is now geared toward the camera, rather than the ticket holder. This year, Andy and the stadium production team are working closely with ESPN to integrate the broadcast and stadium presentations. Instead of narrating player introductions exclusively for fans on site, intros and all aspects of the stadium show are now part of the broadcast product streamed to fans worldwide.

The true creator is necessity, who is the mother of our invention.

Jowett | English translation of Plato’s “Republic”

Live sport presentation is a brave new world. Through perseverance and bold experimentation, the US Open continues to innovate; determined to feed each tennis fan’s hunger after five months of the world’s new and humbling collective-reality.