Serena Williams took the early lead in the Emirates Airline US Open Series Bonus Challenge by winning the Bank of the West Classic -- the season opening tournament -- with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over CoCo Vandeweghe in an All-American final.
Williams, the reigning Emirates Airline US Open Series champion, successfully defended her Bank of the West Classic title without the loss of a set. Vandeweghe reached her first career tour final and is the first "lucky loser" to reach a tour final since 2005.
The men’s and women’s winners of the Emirates Airline US Open Series Bonus Challenge will compete for $1 million in bonus prize money at the 2012 US Open. Click here for the Emirates Airline US Open Series Bonus Challenge women’s leaders after Week 1.
Next on the Emirates Airline US Open Series: The women will compete at the Mercury Insurance Open in Carlsbad, Calif., while the men begin the Emirates Airline US Open Series in Atlanta with reigning Emirates Airline US Open Series men’s champion Mardy Fish also looking to defend his title at the BB&T Atlanta Open. ESPN2 will provide 14 hours of coverage, including back-to-back finals on Sunday beginning at 3 p.m. ET. Tennis Channel will provide coverage beginning Friday.
The USTA’s "Follow the Story" game returns for a second year to allow fans to actively engage and follow tennis all summer long, from the start of the Emirates Airline US Open Series through the US Open. From Monday, July 9, through Sunday, September 9, fans can sign up on EmiratesUSOpenSeries.com. Fans will connect with the Emirates Airline US Open Series and the US Open through Facebook and Twitter and earn points for social activity. The more activity and conversation, the more points are accumulated. Weekly and the overall second-place prizes will be provided by Panasonic. The fan who accrues the most points at the conclusion of the 2012 US Open will receive a trip to the 2013 US Open and a five-night vacation to Dubai, including round-trip business-class airfare on Emirates Airline.
Now in its ninth season, the Emirates Airline US Open Series continues to serve as a true regular season of hard-court tennis, linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open. Fans follow the action throughout the summer during national broadcast coverage while players battle for $40 million, including a chance for bonus prize money at the US Open. The Series collectively reached a U.S. television audience of 39 million and drew more than 800,000 on-site fans in 2011. In 2012, Emirates Airline became the title sponsor of the Series, as well as the official airline of the US Open. The Emirates Airline US Open Series is also supported by sponsors American Express, Chase, Citizen Watch Company, Esurance, evian and Gatorade.
Americans Fish and Williams swept the 2011 Emirates Airline US Open Series men’s and women’s titles. In 2007, Roger Federer collected the biggest paycheck in tennis history – $2.4 million – for winning the US Open and the Emirates Airline US Open Series. In 2005, Kim Clijsters also captured both the US Open and the Series, winning $2.2 million – the largest purse in women’s sports history – and equaled that amount in 2010, winning the US Open and finishing the Emirates Airline US Open Series in second place.