It's not every day that you get to watch the greatest player of all time. Heck, it's not every day that you get to watch the world's greatest at anything. But $80 and a subway ticket to Queens felt worth it to watch the best tennis players in the world do their thing.
RECOMMENDED: Full coverage of the U.S. Open in New York
Most people who attended Tuesday's Federer match at the US Open with me seemed to be either recreational tennis players or armchair fanatics, which meant that the American Express Fan Experience—a warehouse sized room full of all things tennis—was teeming with people interested in how to better their swing, or play like their favorite players. Instead of a corporate sponsor bore-fest the whole Am Ex Fan Experience is actually really well put together. Highlights include a swing test—which gives you information on how well you hit the ball, as well as what you could be doing better—and the Rally Cam, which produces an animated gif of you jumping in the air with a tennis racquet. It might not sound like much, but it gives you a little takeaway from the event. Kids can also get in on the fun—they can take group lessons from some NYC tennis teachers at Am Ex's full size indoor court, and a pro even stops in to sign autographs on occasion.
At another stand, you can get your picture taken with tennis professional Sloane Stephens. Or we should say: you get an interactive video with her (without her being there). Watching people's confused faces as they interacted with something they couldn't see was a laugh, yet the finished product—a printed photo of you and Sloane, who has been digitally added in via an iPad—is remarkably well done. Outside the American Express building there is also the usual grab-bag of food vendors, program and poster hawkers, and a Ralph Lauren store selling U.S. Open apparel.
While it was great to see Roger Federer do his thing, there were hundreds of fans on the grounds themselves watching on giant screens. The price of an inexpensive seat is nearly the same as the General Admission tickets ($78 for GA, $80 for single tickets to a game), so our suggestion is to get an actual ticket so that you may be able to see an actual game. Or you could watch the thing in Brooklyn Bridge Park…but we suggest heading to Queens.
Tennis might not be the most ubiquitous American sport. But the U.S. Open fan activities felt a bit like tailgating—a very pleasant version of tailgating where people occasionally drink champagne, but tailgating nonetheless. Hey, it only comes once a year.