The US Open is underway and on Monday evening, Examiner.com was on the scene for the opening night of the world famous tennis tournament as a VIP guest of Heineken. Heineken has been a sponsor of the US Open for 22 years. When we arrived at the tennis stadium in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens via a party bus, we spotted Anna Wintour checking in and we even stood a few feet from tennis player Roger Federer, as he greeted his friends. As we walked onto the US Open grounds, there were avid tennis fans vying for player autographs.
It was an exciting evening, and the energy was amazing. Our first stop was the Heineken House, which is a brand new interactive destination that Heineken built at Arthur Ashe Stadium just up the stairs on a rooftop overlooking the grounds. The venue has a private "members only" feel, but it is open to all ticket holders attending games and they sell Heineken Beer, of course, in addition to amazing food and Heineken US Open merchandise.
After a friendly staff member welcomed us to Heineken House, we walked up the stairs and to our right there were cabanas - white couches and little tables - where guests could watch the live matches on flat screen televisions. As we walked into the space a little more, to our left there was a photo booth, which took four pictures and made a montage printout instantly or created a GIF version, which we could email to ourselves. Nearby there were also long wooden beer garden style tables with Heineken umbrellas, where guests could enjoy their food and drinks.
Soon we had the opportunity to sample some of the dishes that the Heineken House is serving over the next two weeks. Chef Tyler Kord of No. 7 Sub created two exclusive sandwiches for Heineken House and he introduced them to us. The Dagwood consists of ham, turkey, bacon, pickled beets, tomatoes, red onion, BBQ potato chips, swiss cheese, fresh mozzarella and tennis pro sauce. The sandwich we got to taste was the Broccoli Cuba, which was delicious. It was made of steamed broccoli, roasted onions, swiss cheese, pickles and chinese mustard.
The Heineken House also has a gift shop booth where guests can buy US Open and Heineken themed gear. Across from the booth, there were white wooden swing chairs and in the back there was a game area, where guests could play cornhole.
After relaxing and exploring the chic Heineken House, it was time to watch the Opening Ceremony! We headed to Billie Jean King Stadium to the Heineken Suite to watch the festivities. In the suite, Heineken Beer was overflowing and guests could also enjoy pesto pasta, a salad, tennis ball cookies and brownies. There were two couches in the interior of the suite and a flat screen TV to watch the game. Most of us opted to sit outside to watch the game.
David A. Haggerty CEO and President of the USTA, welcomed everyone to the opening of the US Open and then he invited Billie Jean King to present Mayor Michael Bloomberg with a key to the Billie Jean King Stadium. The mayor joked that chances are that the key doesn't open anything, but he was honored to receive it. "Mi casa es su casa" King proclaimed to the Mayor.
Next Lenny Kravitz took to the court to perform "Are You Gonna Go My Way." He was accompanied by two guitarists and a drummer. He jammed on the court and he was so incredible live that we hoped he would do one or two more songs. Then fireworks went off to conclude the performance. Kravitz said, "Have a great match, I love you New York" before he left.
Next an adorable Frenie Acoba sang the national anthem, she won a contest, that allowed her to perform at the US Open opening night. Finally, the match began! Serena Williams played Italian athlete Francesca Schiavone. Williams said - in her pre-interview with ESPN - that the US Open is extra special to her because it is in her home country. Despite the light drizzle, Williams dominated the match 6-0 and 6-1.
During the game, we also scanned the crowds and neighboring suites for celebrity sightings. Lisa Leslie and her husband Michael Lockwood attended the match, in addition to Cuba Gooding Jr., Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde, Chris Benz, Johnny Weir, Kelly Bensimon, Donald Trump, Kevin Spacey, US Tennis Players Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, Zachary Levi and Chef Anne Burrell were spotted the second Heineken suite across the stadium, Anna Wintour, Matt Bomer, Miss Universe Olivia Culpo, Robin Roberts (who received a warm welcome from the audience) and Bob Balaban were in attendance. After Serena's match concluded, she signed balls for fans to the tune of Hurricane Chris' "Ay Bay Bay." Then it began to rain and Roger Federer's match was postponed! Overall, it was a fabulous evening. Stay tuned for more of our US Open adventures.