Tennis: U.S. Open's retractable roof hits glitch at unveiling

Tue Aug 2, 2016 5:38pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A $150 million retractable roof that will keep the U.S. Open tennis championship's Arthur Ashe Stadium main court dry was displayed with great fanfare and a minor glitch at Flushing Meadows on Tuesday.

The technological wonder had a grand closing, as a crowd of reporters looked skyward on a sunny day as the translucent fabric, moving at the rate of 25 feet per minute, covered the world's largest tennis stadium in 5 minutes and 12 seconds.

Jeanne Ashe, wife of the late champion for whom the stadium is named, did the honors of hitting the button to close the roof and put the assembled audience in comfortable shade.

Tennis Hall of Famer Billie Jean King, for whom the National Tennis Center complex is named, was then summoned to hit the button to trigger the opening - but the roof did not budge.

On her third try, after a delay of over 10 minutes, the roof was again in motion and in five minutes was open over the stadium's 23,771 blue seats.

The delay was a bit embarrassing for officials who had been using the catch-phrase "redefine spectacular" about the high-tech achievement, but it was a minor hiccup as the new space age look of the stadium and prospects of relief from rain was a welcomed development.

U.S. Tennis Association Executive Director Gordon Smith put a positive spin on the delayed opening of the roof.

"It actually worked exactly like it was designed," Smith told reporters.   Continued...

Arthur Ashe Stadium is seen at sunset ahead of the mens final between Roger Federer of Switzerland and Novak Djokovic of Serbia at the U.S. Open Championships tennis tournament in New York, in this file photo dated September 13, 2015.   REUTERS/Lucas Jackson