-- NEW YORK -- Leading up to Day 1 of the US Open, the overwhelming storyline had been who wasn't taking the court: Serena Williams, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic?... no, nope, negative. Yet, their absence only makes this year's tournament that much more intriguing with a wide-open field.
Did we say intriguing? None more so than wild-card entry Maria Sharapova who stunned No. 2 Simona Halep in a thrilling three-set match in which she literally dazzled.
Or is it Venus Williams' for the taking after playing one impressive year of tennis and reflecting on her first Open experience a decade ago??And then there's Caroline Wozniacki after earning the 100th major win of her career Monday.
On the men's side, everyone's jonesing for a Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal semifinal. OK, everyone except for Rafa himself. But don't count out top-ranked American John Isner, who pulled out a 22-ace performance in his first-round win.
While we'll be glued to all the on-court action for the next two weeks, for today, we round up everything from food to fashion to celeb fans with facial cutouts as the year's final Grand Slam got underway.
Shania Twain's famous anthem might be about what doesn't impress her, but she celebrated her birthday by electrifying the crowd (and Genie Bouchard) on the 20th anniversary of Arthur Ashe Stadium in front of some notables such as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Rosie Perez, Martha Stewart, Alec Baldwin, Mike Tyson, Jimmy Buffett, Katie Couric, Megyn Kelly and Henrik Lundqvist. Let's just say there were a few bold-faced names in the house.
Pharrell was also "Happy" (yes, we went there) to be on hand to see his new retro-fashion collaboration with adidas on young players such as 23-year-old Dominic Thiem.
And country crooner Luke Bryan showed who he's favoring with his own replica of? Federer's face in tow.
Fed fanatics not named Luke Bryan
Even though Federer's opening match isn't until Tuesday, he still made quite the impression when he arrived on the grounds to get a few swings in.
Just to get another idea, folks were truly hitting the deck to get a glimpse of him in -- not a game, not a game -- we're talking about practice.
That honor goes to the match between Latvia's Ernie Gulbis and Italy's Alessandro Giannessi. While there were complaints aplenty from both sides, Gulbis won the match -- and the prize for best gripe. Hey, who hasn't been annoyed by a loud chomper, but just opening the bag?
Speaking of grub distractions
Tennis? What tennis? Foodies flock to the grounds of the Open just to sample the fare from some of the city's best chefs. OK, we're still very into the tennis, but we're all-in for the stellar gastronomy selections, as well.