Known worldwide as the Voice of the US Open, 2021 marks Taylor’s 20th year shaping the sound of the tennis season’s final Grand Slam. With his individual style and delivery, Andy writes and narrates every player’s introduction — highlighting their career accomplishments, providing context for fans before each match. As a voice talent, he also narrates video content and special announcements broadcast across the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. For twenty years, his distinctive sound and energy has helped drive and enhance the fan experience — Informing. Entertaining. Celebrating the sport and its colorful cast of characters.
Seventh meeting. Third clash this year. Another US Open victory for Stephens
Back in April, Sloane Stephens won their 2nd-Round match in Charleston. A month later, Madison Keys won their 1st-Round clash in Rome. Without a doubt, this was their most nail-biting match to date.
Back in 2017, Americans dominated the US Open Semifinals. Sloane defeated Venus Williams to reach the championship match. Keys took-out Coco Vandeweghe. The highly anticipated Final, however, lasted only 61-minutes, as Keys struggled with accuracy both on serve and with her punishing ground strokes.
Sloane Stephens vs Madison Keys | Match Context
Fans, the first match of the 2021 US Open is a rematch of the 2017 US Open Final (just four years ago). Back then, these two good friends – and top American talents – made their Grand Slam Final debuts together – here, under the lights, in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Today, they meet again for a spot in Round-2.
Sloane Stephens -66- (USA) | Round-1 Announcer Introduction
In 2017, she won that championship match – capturing her first Grand Slam Singles title, just months after returning from an injury that kept her sidelined for nearly a year. Then in 2018, she reached her second Major Final at Roland Garros, climbed to a career-high ranking of World #3, and finished the season in the championship match of the WTA Finals. In all, she owns 6 WTA Singles titles and is a 9-time Finalist on Tour. From Plantation, Florida – 2017 US Open Champion, Sloane Stephens.
- R1 — W — Madison Keys -42- (USA) | Score: 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(7)
Madison Keys -42- (USA) | Round 1 Announcer Introduction
In 2011, she made her Grand Slam main draw debut right here at the US Open, as a ball-crushing 16-year-old Wild Card ranked outside the top-400. And just six years later…she reached the championship match. Now a 4-time Grand Slam Semifinalist – in all, she owns 5 WTA Singles titles, has been ranked as high as World #7, reached the Bronze Medal match at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio – but most importantly, is living proof that Kindness Wins. From Rock Island, Illinois – 2017 US Open Finalist, Madison Keys.
- R1 — L — Sloane Stephens -66- (USA) | Score: 3-6, 6-1, 6-7(7)
US OPEN | Open Era Women’s Singles Champions
MILESTONE ON THE LINE AT THE 2021 US OPEN
No man has achieved the Calendar Grand Slam (winning all four Major titles in the same year) since the great Rod Laver accomplished the feat for a second time in 1969. World #1 Novak Djokovic intends to rewrite that history by capturing his 4th US Open title.
Now a 20-time Grand Slam Champion – Djokovic is the reigning Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion. He is one of only 3 men to earn the Career Grand Slam twice (Roy Emerson and Rod Laver). In anticipation of Novak’s milestone, all four Grand Slam trophies are in New York for the fortnight.
That said, last month at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Djokovic was poised to become the first player since Steffi Graf (1988) to earn the Calendar Golden Slam (winning all four Major title and Olympic Gold in the same year). In the Olympic Semifinals, Alexander Zverev erased that possibility with an improbable, come-from-behind victory over the World #1. Zverev went on to capture the Gold Medal. Djokovic fell in the Bronze Medal match.
141 YEARS IN THE MAKING: THE 54th US OPEN TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS
The US Open, as we know it today, began in 1881. Four years after the first Wimbledon Championships, members of the Newport Casino in Rhode Island established the U.S. National Singles Championship. Popularity of the sport exploded during the following eight decades. And by 1968, the Open Era began, finally allowing professionals to compete alongside amateurs. Ever since, the sports four Grand Slam tournaments – the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open – cemented their status as the premiere events in professional tennis. Today, these Major trophies and titles are the pinnacle of career achievement.
GRAND SLAM TENNIS TOURNAMENTS – A LONG AND STORIED HISTORY
First, a quick timeline reflecting the roots of the Grand Slam:
- 1877 – The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club organized the first Wimbledon Championship.
- 1881 – Members of the Newport Casino in Rhode Island (now home of the International Tennis Hall of Fame) created the first U.S. National Singles Championship.
- 1891 – France joined the party. Though the tournament itself was not recognized as a Grand Slam until international participation was allowed in 1925.
- 1905 – Australia’s Major began as the Australasian Championships, earning Grand Slam status by 1924.
THE OPEN ERA BUILDS GRAND SLAM PRESTIGE
For decades, the Grand Slams only showcased amateur competition, the U.S. National Championship included. Prize money was paltry. Professional talents earned a living through traveling tours, rather than tournaments like Grand Slams. Essentially, two or more professionals would travel together from city to city. Competing night after night. Earning money through ticket sales.
Then in 1968, the Open Era began – allowing both amateur and professional athletes in a tournament format. That year, France hosted the first Open, followed by England and the United States. Brisbane hosted Australia’s Open debut the following January. With the sport’s top global talents all converging on the same four annual tournaments, the Grand Slams put themselves in position to grow alongside the popularity of the game.
Today, the US Open is the highest-attended annual sporting event in the world. In 2019, over 720-thousand fans passed through the gates of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. That year, Singles champions earned over $3.8-million, while players who fell in the First Round grossed $60-thousand.
To put that in perspective: In 1968, the inaugural US Open committed $14,000 for the Men’s Singles Champion. When Arthur Ashe won – because he was an amateur – he turned down the prize money. Instead, the legendary humanitarian settled for a $20 per diem. What a difference 54-years makes.
COVID-19 AND THE 2021 US OPEN
Last year, the 2020 US Open was the first Major to return after COVID-19 transformed life as we knew it. No fans. Cavernous, empty stadiums. Separate “bubbles” for players and crew. Regular coronavirus testing. Strict social distancing.
Today, thanks to vaccines and those who’ve chosen to receive them, the gates are open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center — with some specific requirements.
QUICK COURSE CORRECTION BEFORE DAY ONE
Originally, in the months leading up to the 2021 US Open, all fans were welcome (vaccinated and unvaccinated), provided each guest followed CDC guidance based on individual vaccination status. However, on the Friday before the start of main-draw play, the New York City Mayor’s office changed course — instead mandating that all Arthur Ashe Stadium ticket holders provide proof of vaccination.
In response, due to continued concern over COVID’s highly-infectious Delta variant, the USTA extended the Mayor’s mandate to every US Open ticket holder — including those with passes to Louis Armstrong Stadium, the Grandstand, and fans with grounds admission tickets. In other words, to enter the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis center, all ticket holders 12-years and older must provide proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Acceptable forms of proof include: CDC Vaccination Card (photo/photocopy accepted), NYC Vaccination Record (photo/photocopy accepted), NYC COVID Safe App, Excelsior Pass, or Excelsior Pass Plus.
That said, unlike events held before vaccines were widely available, there are no temperature checks or health questionnaires to complete before entering the grounds. Additionally, negative COVID tests are not required to get on site. Simply put, each guest must be vaccinated.
COVID’s grip continues, as we navigate an uncertain landscape full of both vaccinated and unvaccinated tennis fans. Responsibly, the USTA is relying on the guidance of the CDC, the New York City Mayor’s Office, and the New York City Department of Health to hopefully ensure a safe and healthy experience for all.