From scuffles in the stands and in the locker room, a wayward bullet, a defection and even a dismissed murder charge, the US Open has seen its fair share of controversy in its 134-year history. Here are 10 of the best-known unusual open moments.
1. An umpire and line judge in her 70s was in New York, preparing to officiate at the 2012 US Open, when she was arrested for killing her husband with a coffee cup. Lois Goodman, who had been expecting to work at that summer's tournament, was later charged with murder. However, Goodman never stood trial, and the charges were dropped because she passed a polygraph and there was a lack of DNA evidence linking her to any crime. She returned to Flushing Meadows the following summer to officiate.
2. It was the evening, as the beer cans, paper cups and vitriol dropped out of the night sky, that the NYPD had to step in to prevent a riot, or something approaching a tennis apocalypse. Somewhat presciently, a spectator had come that day, for this second-round encounter between John McEnroe and Ilie Nastase at the 1979 US Open, with a banner which read: "This tennis match has been rated 'R'. No one under 17 admitted without a parent or a guardian." The conflict arose from Nastase's protests at McEnroe's supposed stalling between points, with the Romanian making his point -- probably as only he could -- by pretending to sleep on the baseline, using his racket as a pillow. Nastase was warned about his protests, then given a one-point penalty, and when it later seemed as though he was declining to continue, he was defaulted by the umpire, who announced the match was McEnroe's. But that wasn't the end of the mayhem -- far from it with almost 20 minutes of chaos, and the crowd turning angry. Amidst it all, the tournament officials arrived on-court to reinstate Nastase, as well as to order the umpire from the chair. Upon resuming, McEnroe, now an ESPN analyst, scored a four-set victory, and then he and Nastase had dinner together.
3. The same summer that a serial killer known as "Son of Sam" was on the loose in New York, a spectator at a John McEnroe match was shot. It was 1977, and McEnroe was playing a third-round match against Eddie Dibbs. The male spectator, who was taken away in a stretcher, survived. It was never established who had fired the .38 caliber handgun. The police concluded it had not been deliberate. They determined it was a stray bullet from the streets of Queens, which had somehow bounced and ricocheted its way into the tennis stadium and then into the man's thigh.
4. At the 1977 US Open, Renee Richards became the first transgender person to play at a Grand Slam singles tournament. As a male amateur player (his income came from his work as an prominent Manhattan eye surgeon), Richard Raskind had made five appearances in the men's singles competition of the US Open between 1953 and 1960. After transitioning in 1975, she was prohibited by the United States Tennis Association from playing in the ladies' singles tournament in 1976. It took a legal challenge the following summer -- with the New York Supreme Court ruling in her favor -- for Richards to make it into the draw. Richards had the misfortune, however, to be drawn against the defending Wimbledon champion, Britain's Virginia Wade, and so went no further than the first round.
5. "My life is not about a banana," Maria Sharapova said after the fruit-based controversy when she won the 2006 US Open. At least twice, the Siberian's father, Yuri, was spotted holding up a banana. The innocent explanation was that Yuri wanted to remind her to eat during the final against Justine Henin. The conspiracy theory was that this was a code and illegal coaching. "I've just won a Grand Slam. The last thing I'm going to want to talk about is a banana, alright? Can you tell me, if someone tells me to eat a banana, do you think that's the reason why I'm going to win a match? This is great advice -- we should tell all the junior players to have a banana and they're all going to win. Great."
6. While in New York for the 1975 US Open, Martina Navratilova walked into the Immigration and Naturalization Service building in Manhattan and defected to the United States. Prague reacted with this statement: "Martina Navratilova has suffered a defeat in the face of the Czechoslovak society. Navratilova had all the possibilities in Czechoslovakia to develop her talent, but she preferred a professional career and a fat bank account."
7. Of all the fashion choices that Serena Williams has made, none have had the impact as the black catsuit she wore at the 2002 Open.
8. Andy Roddick pushed Novak Djokovic up against a locker after taking offense at his "chirping" during the 2008 Open. "I was kind of talking trash and he came out and beat the pants off me, as he would, but he kind of chirped afterwards. So he comes straight in, and I went up against him and had him up against the locker," Roddick disclosed, many years later.
9. For some, Serena Williams' rage at a lineswoman at the 2009 US Open was "the coolest thing they've ever seen." The reason for the American's anger was that the official had just called her for a foot-fault, which took Kim Clijsters to match point in their semi-final. Such was the abusive language that Williams used, she received a point penalty, which gave Clijsters the match. Some people later said to Williams that the episode had turned them into tennis fans for the first time. "A lot of people say that it was the coolest thing they have ever seen. I think that it's a little bit ridiculous. They say that after I did that, they now watch tennis, and I'm like, 'cool'. It was what it was," said Williams.
10. Play was suspended during a Novak Djokovic match at the 2010 US Open when a small group of fans starting brawling high up in the Arthur Ashe Stadium (or as one of the New York papers would put it the next day, "a fight broke out in the nosebleeds"). As a tournament spokesman said: "It was a hot night in New York -- these things happen."