Monday was the first official day of the 2023 US Open and a record-breaking single-day total of 72,957 spectators passed through the gates of the spectacular USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens. The night session attendance totaled 30,429, the highest in one single night.
The evening featured a ceremony honoring tennis great and pioneer Billie Jean King and the 50th Anniversary of the US Open becoming the first sporting event to offer equal prize money to male and female competitors. Grammy-Award-winning singer Sara Bareilles sang her hit song, “Brave,” to an approving audience.
Other celebrities in attendance on opening night included Danny DeVito, Rosie Perez, therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Mike Tyson, Alec Baldwin, Gayle King, fashion designer Vera Wang, playwright and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who also spoke at the opening ceremony.
Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle were in attendance to watch 19-year-old Coco Gauff’s defeat Laura Siegemund 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 in her first-round match. After Gauff’s victory, Michelle Obama made her way down to the court to participate in a tribute to honor King.
“Billie Jean teaches us that when things lie in the balance, we all have a choice to make. We can either wait around and accept what we’re given, we can sit silently and hope someone fights our battles. Or we can make our own stand,” Obama said.
“Fifty years ago, everything was hanging in the balance. Billie Jean had a choice. She could put her head down, keep winning tournament after tournament and just accept whatever check she was given, or she could dig deep and break serve, she could make a stand.
“If you know Billie Jean, you know what she chose…and thankfully, the US Open had the guts to listen.”
In 1972, Billie Jean earned $10,000 for winning the singles title at the US Open compared to the men’s champion earning $25,000.
“Thank you, Billie Jean, for always fighting for women’s equality,” Gauff said.
“I appreciate you…so that I can live the life that I live today, in women’s tennis and around the world in general.”
Earlier on opening day, Frances Tiafoe won his first round match defeating Learner Tien in straight sets, 6-2, 7-5, 6-1. He played his second match on Wednesday against Sebastian Ofner. Christopher Eubanks also advanced to the second round defeating Kwon Soon-woo in four sets, 6-3, 6-4, 0-6, 6-4. He played his second-round match Wednesday)against Benjamin Bonzi.