NEW YORK, NY, United States - The WTA Tour will return to The Bronx in New York City on August 16. The NYJTL Bronx Open will run until August 24 and is set to showcase some of the sport’s greatest stars, including Top 20 players Wang Qiang, Johanna Konta and Anett Kontaveit.
The neighborhood of New York will play host to the only WTA tournament in the week leading up to the US Open that will take place at the state-of-the-art Cary Leeds Center.
Fans will be able to enter the event for free but those aged over 18 will be asked to make a donation, highlighting the International-level tournament’s commitment to the local community.
Here are six things to know about The Bronx.
Tennis is at the heart of the community
Arthur Ashe and Lewis Hartman founded New York Junior Tennis and Learning in 1971 with the aim of growing tennis and helping to ensure education for everyone. It is that foundation in conjunction with the city that helped fund the Cary Leeds Center, where the NYJTL Bronx Open will be played.
At the center, there is a provision for after-school tutoring for locals, providing an oasis for those who are often overlooked or under-privileged.
“Our idea is to use tennis as a way to gain and hold the attention of young people so that we can teach them about matters more important than tennis,” Ashe once said.
The Cary Leeds Center is a realization of this objective and the free entry to fans for the duration of the tournament is a fitting tribute to the aims of the US Open and Wimbledon champion.
The clubhouse at Cary Leeds is named after WTA founder Billie Jean King, who has been a supporter of the facility and its programs.
The Bronx Bombers
Baseball is the sport most readily associated with The Bronx, largely thanks to the presence of MLB franchise New York Yankees having called it their home since 1922.
With 27 World Series titles – all achieved since moving to The Bronx – the Yankees are the most successful franchise in the history of the sport.
Indeed, they have earned the nickname ‘the Bronx Bombers’ due to their home neighborhood and their prolific hitting.
Yankee Stadium is located in Concourse, was completed in 2009 and can hold up to 47,309 fans. Previously, the team played at a ground of the same name right nextdoor, which averaged 53,069 spectators per game in its final season.
A walk on the wild side
Bronx Zoo is home to over 6,000 animals, with 700 different species housed at its 265-acre park. It was first opened in 1899 and contains animals as diverse as toads from Tanzania to big cats from the Far East of Russia.
More than four million visitors per year visit the zoo and it is the Wildlife Conservation Society’s flagship park. Indeed, it proclaims to serve as a “springboard and hub for conservation efforts across the entire planet”.
It has been the subject of a docu-series on the Animal Planet channel entitled ‘The Zoo’.
How 'The Bronx' got its name
One of only five New York boroughs that is situated on the mainland USA, it is named after a Swedish settler, Jonas Bronck, who bought the land from Native Americans. It was thereafter colloquially referred to by fellow landowners as ‘The Bronck’s Land’ and has never dropped the ‘The’ from its title.
The Bronx may only be New York’s fourth-largest borough but there are only five cities in the whole of the USA more populous than it: Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia and Phoenix.
As such, it has produced its share of celebrities, from film stars Woody Allen and Al Pacino to musicians Jennifer Lopez and Mary J Blige. The poet Edgar Allan Poe was another famous resident.
President John F. Kennedy lived in the neighborhood during his childhood at a spectacular 20-room three-story mansion, while another President, Theodore Roosevelt, summered in the Riverdale section of the Bronx during his younger years.
The birth of hip hop
Hip hop music was born in The Bronx. According to legend, on August 11, 1973, Jamaican-American DJ Kool Herc threw a jam in the area. During his set, he moved away from playing songs in full and instead played only instrumental sections or ‘breaks’. Along with his friend, Coke La Rock, who was hyping up the crowd, they noticed the crowd went wild during these breaks. Hip hop was, therefore, born at that moment.
Since then, The Bronx has produced a string of top artists, including Grandmaster Flash, Slick Rick and Big Pun, whose musical origins all come from the area.
Green with envy
Although Central Park may be the most famous of New York’s green spaces, it is far from the largest. Instead, that honor goes to Pelham Bay Park, which is located on the Long Island Sound and is over three times larger than its more illustrious relation.
There are numerous hiking trails and bridle paths to enjoy, plus two golf courses and a wide and diverse range of plant and animal life.
Indeed, there are several large open spaces devoted to greenery and nature in The Bronx, including Barretto Point Park and River Park. Overall, nearly 25% of the area in the borough is devoted to parkland.