Sony Open takes center stage on Key Biscayne

Miami’s sports landscape has changed quite a bit over the past quarter-century. We’ve seen teams, stadiums, and superstars come and go. With all the buzz that David Beckham and his proposed soccer club has set off in recent months, it’s easy to forget the scores of international tennis stars who have graced the hard courts of Key Biscayne during the Sony Open.

murry autographs

From Serena and Steffi, to Pete, Andre, Roger and Raffa – the Tennis Center at Crandon Park has been a who’s who of the tennis world since 1985.

My earliest memory of the tournament was back in 1994. I attended an early round session and was so spellbound by the event that I convinced my parents to buy tickets for the men’s final, where I witnessed Sampras defeat Agassi in three sets.

It was an instant classic and I was instantly hooked.

I loved the small format of Crandon Park, which let me get up close and personal with tennis greats. I loved the drive to Key Biscayne, the made-for-TV blue skies, and of course, the chance to play hooky for the day.

Fast forward 20 years and little about the actual event has changed – except for the name; remember The Lipton? If anything, the tournament has gotten better – livelier crowds, better food and drinks, and the top players in the game.

Serena Williams makes her entrance

When it comes to selling Miami, there are few events that measure up in terms of brand value and international appeal.

The Sony Open is to tennis as Art Basel is to art. Miami wouldn’t be the same without either event; and the events themselves wouldn’t be the same somewhere else.

The 2012 vote in favor of privately-funded upgrades to the Crandon Park Tennis Center ensured the Sony Open is here to stay for the long-term.

The park improvements are still a couple years away, but you don’t have to wait to get in on the action. This year’s tournament runs through March 30.