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With the Obamas and Bieber, Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Judge, US Open stars aren’t just on the court


NEW YORK (AP) — Coco Gauff peeked at one of the 35ft wide video boards at the top Arthur Ashe Stadium during U.S. Open game last week and spotted celebrity couple Justin and Hailey Bieber.

“I saw them immediately on the jumbotron. I don’t know if the camera saw me looking up,” said Gauff, who reached the semifinals for the first time in New York. with a win at Ashe Tuesday. “I was hoping if I lost the game they wouldn’t blame him.”

The stars aren’t just on the grounds of Flushing Meadows, where the stage to see and be seen is also found in the suites and seats of the 23,000+ main arena. From Biebers to the Obamasfrom New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers to New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, retired skier Lindsey Vonn to director Spike Lee, the bold names continue to swing at the US Open.

“Some of them have a passion for tennis. Some of them want to see a particular player,” US Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier said. “Frances Tiafoe brings people who want to see it. Coco Gauff, of course. Novak Djokovic too. No disrespect to any of them, but Roger Federer and Serena Williams were on a different level. When it comes to famous people wanting to see famous people perform, no one comes close to these two.

For celebrities, it’s an opportunity to see top-level tennis for free and benefit from free publicity.

For the tournament, this is an opportunity to attract a little more attention and position itself as an ambitious event.

Sometimes famous people ask for tickets. Sometimes they are invited by the USTA, which hires an outside company to help them contact publicists, managers and agents and will provide rides to and from the tournament.

Former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle attend the first round of the US Open tennis championships, Monday, Aug. 28, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

“If we know someone’s in town – maybe they’re doing a movie, maybe they’re doing a TV series, maybe they’re here for the (MTV Video Music Awards) – and that we have a relationship with the person looking after it,” Widmaier said, “we could say, ‘Hey, by the way, if so-and-so is interested, we’d be happy to accommodate them if their schedule allows it. allow. “

And sometimes it’s a player who makes the invitation.

Tiafoe arranged for rapper Pusha T to attend one of her matches this year.

“My agent took care of him. I had it in the field. It was pretty cool,” said Tiafoe, a 25-year-old from Maryland who lost in the quarterfinals to Ben Shelton on Tuesday, when actress Emma Watson and Vogue editor Anna Wintour were in attendance. that I saw him there…I felt like washing him off and saying thank you for coming. That was good. Of course the US Open immediately put that on Instagram. Pretty smart.”

Make no mistake: the players know who is there.

“I notice when they’re watching,” the defending men’s champion said. Carlos Alcaraz, who won ahead of singer J Balvin and actor Ben Stiller on Monday. “Sometimes, (I think), ‘Oh, my God, he’s there or she’s there.’ It’s crazy.”

Yes, celebrities from entertainment, politics, and other sports are popular with gamers, especially if they can tune in after a game.

“I was really struck by Justin Bieber. “Never Say Never” was… one of my favorite songs when I was a kid. Then ‘Baby, oh, baby.’ I could go through all of his songs. Then Hailey comes along too,” said Gauff, a 19-year-old from Florida. “I guess it was a little date night for them, which was really cool.”

She had previously met First Lady Michelle Obama, but not former President Barack Obama, and was thrilled to be able to chat with the two after watching her win on the tournament’s opening night.

“I wasn’t sure if they were there or not. I saw the Secret Service. I didn’t know if it was Mr. Biden and Mrs. Biden. I knew it was someone. Then I heard that maybe Mr. Clinton was coming. I didn’t know who it was exactly. So I only found out after the game,” Gauff said. “I will never forget that moment for the rest of my life.”


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