A review of the best and worst parts of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.
I recently completed my “Fan Slam Rankings” article series, covering ease of getting to the venue, merchandise, ease of getting tickets, fan experience and comparing the venues.
Each slam was ranked for a variety of criteria and the grand slam with the highest ranking was the Australian Open.
The scores were:
- Australian Open : 37
- Wimbledon : 33
- US Open : 28
- French Open : 22
Here’s a review of the things that stood out to me that each grand slam tournament was the best, and worst at.
- Ground pass value; as well as the tennis a ground pass includes access to loads of entertainment and the practice courts.
- Seating around the grounds and big screens
- Centre Court; there are no bad seats in Rod Laver Arena
- Courts with rooves; already two and one more in progress
- City involvement; AO banners and signage are displayed throughout the city and there are lots of competitions to win tickets and other promotions.
- Entertainment and live music; there are live bands every night, which adds to the atmosphere and gets more people to the grounds.
- Phone charging; powerpoints are easy to access.
- TVs around Rod Laver and Hisense Arenas; spectators can watch the match while waiting to get back their seats.
- Easy access to the grounds from the city via tram, train, walking or taxi.
- Although I have no comparison with the other slams, the Aus Open is great at making the event bigger and better every year.
- Semi finals and finals ticket prices ($389.90 for a ticket to the men’s final)
- Sit down dining places stop serving food at 8pm (last year they did anyway, I’ll check if it’s the same this year)
- Acceptable camera lens size that can be bought in to the ground; Maximum of 200 mm lens.
- The “je ne sais quoi”; the Frenchness of the event adds something special
- Scheduling on Court Suzanne Lenglen (the number two court). The matches of the Top 4 players are spread between Court Philippe Chatrier (the number one court) and Court No.2, rather than mainly being scheduled on the number one court.
- The orange clay courts are beautiful to look at, especially in photos.
- Efficient, friendly, stylishly dressed staff.
- Size and crowdedness of the grounds, particularly outside Court Suzanne Lenglen where one of the main screens is located in one of the main walkways.
- Crowd booing players, regularly, sometimes for no apparent reason.
- Smoking. Some people would even light up in the stands before being asked to put it out.
- Lack of toilets, food and drink outlets in comparison to the other slams.
- Announcing rescheduled matches (the US Open is equally bad.) When play runs long on a main court, scheduled matches can be moved to Court 3. We got good at anticipating this and asked the staff at Court 3 if a match was coming up. They generally knew but to my knowledge the change was never announced around the grounds or via social media etc
Special Mention for French Open and Wimbledon
Because there is no night session at the French Open or Wimbledon, you get to see a lot of matches with day session ticket. The downside to the French Open currently not having a court with lights means that matches are often stopped due to bad light around 9pm, but by then you’ve had around 10 hours of live tennis.
- Resale of tickets with funds going to charity. If people leave before play finishes they can return their tickets which are then resold to people on the grounds. This means more people get access to the main courts, and there is a bigger crowd at the courts late in the day. I hope in future the Australian Open starts doing this.
- Beautiful, tidy, well maintained grounds
- Helpful, knowledgable staff
- Generous allowance for what you can bring in to the grounds with you
- Museum and tour of the grounds during “non tournament” time
- Henman Hill / Murray Mound for watching matches on the big screen. There is plenty of space and because it’s a slope you don’t have to look past people’s heads. There are also some spectator seats at the top of the hill.
- Wimbledon has a good set up during rainy conditions (let’s face it, they need to!). There are lots of covered areas and seats where you can shelter.
- TV Coverage; The BBC shows Wimbledon on multiple channels on free to air TV.
- Access to tickets. I’ve covered this in the ticketing article.
- Weather. Enough said.
- Ticket Availability. Note: although tickets are easy to get, they aren’t necessarily good tickets. Read the ticketing article for details.
- Opening Ceremony. There is a fireworks and light show at the start of the Day 1 night session.
- Cocktails. The Grey Goose Honey Deuce Cocktail with signature glass for $14 is a great refreshment on a hot day, and great value (by Australian standards)
- Late play and court access; during the first week matches on the outside courts run until late at night under lights.
- Management of the crowd at the subway station: A lot of people leave the grounds at the same time after a match finishes in Arthur Ashe Stadium, but we only ever had to wait 5 to 10 minutes for the next subway train to arrive to take the crowd home quickly.
- Qualifying Event: Entry is free and the grounds are set up like they are for the main tournament. You can see loads of players practicing.
- Seats in the Arthur Ashe promenade are the furthest from the court of any slam. The lack of ushers or any kind of crowd control is frustrating if you prefer not to be surrounded by loud talkers who come and go from their seats and block your view taking photos of themselves with the court in the background while the ball is in play.
- The allowance for what you can bring in to the grounds is the worst. Only one small bag containing reasonable refreshment and nourishment.
- Scoreboard. At the other slams, during a change of ends the scoreboard shows scores from other matches. In the Arthur Ashe promenade the big scoreboard shows people dancing. The long scoreboard around the edge of Arthur Ashe is also really to hard to follow due to how they lay out the game and set scores.
- Twitter account. Although I heard the USO social media has improved, during the 2012 US Open the Twitter account made so many mistakes it was written about in the Wall Street Journal.
Read the Fan Slam Ranking series:
- Fan Slam Rankings Part 1: Ease of Getting to the Venue
- Fan Slam Rankings Part 2: Merchandise
- Fan Slam Rankings Part 3: Ease of Getting Tickets
- Fan Slam Rankings Part 4: Fan Experience
- Fan Slam Rankings Part 5: The Venues
Do you agree with these best and worst ratings? Please let me know in the comments below.
Until next time
Grand Slam Gal
Thanks Rafa Fans, I always appreciate your feedback.
Thank you, Mel.
I really enjoyed reading all your tips cause they are so helpful.