From Flushing with Love

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Queens got into the international swing as scores of visitors from around the world came to the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park for the 2010 U.S. Open on Monday, August 31.

“Some fans crossed continents to get here,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “Others just hopped on the No. 7 train.”

And the mayor wasn’t just talking about the fans in attendance. Scores of players, from amateurs to the top-ranked, from every country imaginable came to Queens with an eye towards recognition and international acclaim.

“New York welcomes the greatest tennis players in the world,” said Bloomberg.

And the greatest players in the world did not disappoint the thousands of onlookers. Top players Venus Williams and Roger Federer returned to championship form with straight set victories in the Open’s first round.

Williams shook off rust and a nagging knee injury to dismantle her Italian opponent, Roberta Vinci, in a convincing 6-4, 6-1 victory. She looked smooth on the court and didn’t show any signs of discomfort in her knee.

Federer took to court in the late match looking to erase last year’s loss in the finals to Argentine underdog Juan Martin del Potro. His first round match up pitted him against another Argentine, but this time the results were far more favorable to Federer.

The five-time U.S. Open champ took care of Brian Dabul in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2. Federer is now 16-0 in night session matches at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Before both tennis stars cruised to victory, the opening ceremony at Arthur Ashe Stadium beamed with heroes and those who they have inspired. Bloomberg, as well as ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour and USTA Chairperson and President Lucy Garvin, honored tennis heroes James Blake, Martina Navratilova, wheelchair-bound Esther Vergeer and Afghani tennis player Dori Samadzai-Bonner.

The ceremony was capped with a rousing performance by Cuban-American singer Gloria Estefan, who sang an inspiring number that put everyone in the mood for some professional Ashe court action.

The international flavor of the opening ceremony matched the crowd’s international reach. One visitor, Maria Osuna of Mexico, came to Queens just for the Open. It was her first time in New York and not only was the Open better than she expected, but the city far exceeded her expectations as well.

“I cannot believe how great New York is. I love it all, everything about it,” said Osuna, who’s rooting for Rafael Nadal. “It’s bigger than I expected and better than I expected.”