One for the books

Dust jacket of the new “US Open: 50 Years of Championship Tennis.” Courtesy United States Tennis Association.

The US Open begins officially Monday, Aug. 27, and unofficially Saturday, Aug. 25 when the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park hosts Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day.

The good news is that everybody’s back in action, including Serena Williams, Juan del Potro and August 2013 WAG cover guy and reigning Wimbledon champ Novak Djokovic.

This year is a special one for the Open:  It marks the golden anniversary of the Open Era, when professionals as well as amateurs were admitted to the Slams, and thus the golden jubilee of the US Open itself. (It’s also the inauguration of the new Louie – the new Louis Armstrong Stadium, the last piece in a seven-year, more than $600 million renovation of the center.)

To mark the 50thanniversary, the United States Tennis Association and Richard S. Rennert, its director of publishing, have put together a stunning book that is sure to do more than grace your coffee table. Like a great player, “US Open: 50 Years of Championship Tennis” (US Open/Abrams, New York, $50, 270 pages) has all the shots – dizzying overhead ones and taut plays from the baseline. There are profiles of the tournament’s great champions by some of the game’s great writers – George Vecsey on Arthur Ashe; Steve Flink on Chris Evert. Sometimes, the players themselves weigh in on friends, rivals and mentors, as in Evert’s take on Billie Jean King.

For us, writers though we are, the images sometimes speak louder than words – Roger Federer reaching for a serve amid the olive and violet abstraction of the court in shadows (is there any more beautiful sight than the backward curve of the server’s body?); a pouty John McEnroe gesturing to the crowd after defeating Jimmy Connors to advance to the men’s final in 1984; Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Federer sharing a laugh in New York City days before the 2013 Open. No three players have dominated the Open – and tennis – more, although E.J. Crawford’s essay “Three for All” recalls some other terrific tennis trios.

It’s love all for heck of a book.

For more, visit usopen.org and tune into “Treasures of New York: US Open” at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 26 on THIRTEEN. Then look for more on the Open, tennis and sports rivalries in WAG’s August “Sporting Inspirations” issue.

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