Serena Williams’ Blast from the Past 1950’s Baby Shower

Okay, Serena Williams has some pretty amazing friends.

Pals hosted a 1950’s themed baby shower for Serena Williams and fiance Alexis Ohanian over the weekend, and judging by the looks of things, no detail went amiss. ¬† Williams who is due later this fall, mingled with friends Eva Longoria, Ciara, and Lala to name a few.

Check out some photos from the bash below, thanks to fellow attendees on the ‘gram. Also, the hashtag #shakerattleandroll2017? Genius.

#shakerattleandroll2017

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Couples time at Baby O Diner! @christhefr #shakerattleandroll2017 @serenawilliams @alexisohanian ‚̧ԳŹ

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Tips on Buying US Open Tennis Tickets

Arthur Ashe Stadium

The final major of the year is nearly upon us, and with that, a mad dash to secure tickets to the US Open. ¬†New York’s main event takes place this year on August 28, 2017 – September 10, 2017. ¬†Each day of the tournament features “sessions” that are defined by the Order of Play for the day — Day and Evenings.

Check out some tips below on how to see all the action. ¬†For the official website, check out USOpen.org (seriously…dot org? golf getting the upper hand on tennis here).

1. Qualifying Tournament is FREE! FREE! FREEEEEE!

Oh, I’m sorry, did I mention “free”? If you’re unable to make the main draw or want more tennis, the US Open Qualifying Tournament takes place August 22, 2017 – August 25, 2017 and is arguably the best deal in town. ¬†Though it’s easy to mistake the Qualifying Tournament as just an appetizer, you can catch many recognizable names and up and comers throughout the week. Previous qualifying players included Cici Bellis, Laura Robson, Taylor Townsend, Ryan Harrison, and¬†Karen¬†Khachanov.

Check the draw and order of play each day to choose your favorite matches to attend. Play begins each day at 11 a.m. and is open to the public.

2. Know Your Court and Session

Depending on the court you would like to see, a specific ticket type may be in order.

  • Grounds Pass: The popular Grounds Pass allows you entry into the tournament and the ability to visit any stadium except Arthur Ashe, which is all reserved seating. ¬†It’s basically like general admission, with first come first serve seating for all field courts and Louis Armstrong and Grandstand. ¬†Now, Armstrong and Grandstand do have reserved seating areas, but there are plenty of seats for other ticket holders. ¬†Tickets can start from ~$60 USD.
  • Grandstand & Louis Armstrong: Armstrong is the bigger of the two, but both offer reserved seating to their respective courts. You can also use your ticket to visit any other field court, but like the Grounds Pass, just no Ashe. ¬†If you’re debating between the two, Armstrong always offers a strong Order of Play while Grandstand offers an intimate setting. ¬†Tickets can start from ~$80 for Grandstand and ~$100 USD for Armstrong.
  • Arthur Ashe: The most gargantuan tennis court in all the land! I personally view a ticket to Ashe almost akin to the Charlie’s golden ticket. ¬†With an Ashe ticket, you get a reserved seat to the stadium, as well as first come first serve access to every other court. ¬†If you’re looking to catch big name stars (see Federer, Roger), you’re likely going to want to snag AA tickets. ¬†In earlier rounds, tickets can start at ~$60 — the same price as a Grounds Pass — so why not grab a ticket here? Sure, your seats might be closer to the sky than the court, but in case there’s a match worth watching you’ll be there. ¬†Prices to considerably increase in the later rounds, which in that case, the Grounds Pass becomes a better value.

One other thing to note is an Evening session ticket only matters on Ashe (it’s not offered for any other courts above). The Day session, which encompasses all the above courts, typically goes on well past 7p.m., so to me, it’s only worth it if your fave is playing then. Or you just want to experience USO after dark.

3. Ticket Plans vs. Individual Tickets

The US Open offers a variety of ticket selections, including the option to purchase tickets via a plan or individually by session. ¬†Tickets can be purchased either by phone or online through TicketMaster, so have your account at the ready. ¬†Once you’ve decided which court type you want to focus on (see #2) you can choose your ticket type.

  • Ticket Plans: This route is a great option if you know you’ll be attending the open across multiple days during the tournament. ¬†For example, planning on going the full first week of play? Or how about only for Labor Day weekend? There’s a plan for that! It’s an easy way to bundle tickets and makes purchasing tickets much easier than selecting each session. ¬†See more information on Ticket Plan options on the official website: Click Here for Ticket Plan Details
  • Individual Tickets:¬†Just as it sounds — you choose tickets based on the day, court, and session. Good if you want to mix and match throughout your time there. ¬†Click Here for Individual Tickets

4. Promo Codes

So maybe you’ve perused the tickets and started thinking “what are these processing fees?!” — you’re not alone. Tickets ain’t cheap! And going to multiple sessions on Ashe? Please. That’s where promo codes come in. Consider doing a quick Google search before purchasing your tickets to see if there are any open deals. ¬†These may come via Groupon or a BOGO special. I’ve been lucky enough to grab two Arthur Ashe tickets for ~$40 total before fees through codes. ¬†Not bad! ¬†Promo codes are typically entered in TicketMaster before checkout.

5. Maximize Rewards Points

Do you have mountains of Chase Ultimate Rewards, Marriott Rewards, or SPG points? You’re in luck! As sponsors of the tournament, there are often deals loyalty members to the above programs can capitalize on. ¬†For the last several years, Starwood (or SPG) offers its members the ability to bid on several USO related auctions. ¬†These range from court side AA seats, to luxury suite access, as part of their SPG Moments program. ¬†I’ve noticed minimum bidding is around 20,000 points for a luxury suite for 2. Not bad! Below is a high-level point transfer map in case you don’t have SPG points directly:

  • Only have Marriott points? Marriott points can be transferred to SPG after linking up your accounts. There is a 3:1 point ratio for Marriott to SPG. For example, 20,000 SPG points = 60,000 Marriott points.
  • Only have Chase Ultimate Rewards? You can transfer your Chase points to a Marriott account, which after the fact you can go the above route of linking it up to SPG. ¬†The Chase to Marriott point ratio is 1:1.

6. Advance Purchases through American Express

The days of advance purchase are long gone unfortunately, but for future reference, American Express cardholders have access to tickets before the general public, typically 1-2 weeks prior.

7. Luxury Suites and VIP

I can’t speak to these because I’m not Anna Wintour, but they exist! I know they exist because while I’m sweating these folks are in air condition. ¬†If you’re feeling like treating yo’ self head on over to here.

I should also mention the Chase Lounge. ¬†Visitors must RSVP to the lounge for the specific session they are attending (and they must hold a ticket for said session). ¬†Inside, guests are welcomed with drinks, snacks, and best of all air conditionnnnn! ¬†Access is free and you can RSVP HERE. ¬†You will need to enter the customer service phone number located on the back of your Chase credit card. ¬†Don’t have a Chase card? I’m sure you can find the number on the interwebs.

8. SHAAAADDEEE

The mention of sweat of course leads me to shade. ¬†New York is HOT in August/September. When buying tickets or just planning your day, consider where the sun might be in relation to your court/seat. I know that sounds crazy, like, how the hell are you supposed to know where awnings exist to create shade. Yeah, I don’t know, just wear a lot of sunscreen.

Enjoy the Open!

Maria Sharapova autobiography to be released September 12, 2017

Maria Sharapova’s aptly titled autobiography — Sharapova: An Autobiography — is set to be released on September 12, 2017, according to Amazon.

When Sharapova’s book was first announced in November 2015, many fans could have easily predicted several chapter topics: origin story, rise to world no. 1, etc. ¬†Since that time, things got interesting to say the least. ¬†

Here’s a snap of Sharapova putting the finishing touches on her book. ¬†You can check out the synopsis and pre-order the book on Amazon now. ¬†Jam not included.

Memoir in progress with my favorite homemade breakfast GF Pancakes with cherry jam

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2016 BNP Paribas Showdown to be “A Salute to Serena”

Each year since 2008, the BNP Paribas Showdown has been held in New York City at Madison Square Garden as part of the World Tennis Day festivities.  The one-night event features exhibition matches bringing out the best, with past participants, including Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki, Rafael Nadal and most recently Grigor Dimitrov and Roger Federer in 2015.

With advertising generally focused on several of the headliners, 2016 will look to spotlight one key player: Serena Williams. The 2016 BNP Paribas Showdown is being billed as “A Salute to Serena”, an apt title considering Serena’s many accomplishments (including a potential calendar Grand Slam).

The event will take place on March 8, 2016, and though details are limited, pre-sale information may be available through www.thegarden.com/inline.

(Source: Ad from the 2015 US Open tournament program.)