FROM RUMORS OF match-fixing to a doping scandal to a debate over equal prize money, tennis in 2016 has often drawn its biggest headlines for what happens off the court. Amid the chaos, though, matches were played, trophies were lifted and the tentpole events continued to thrill. The most profitable of those, the U.S. Open, starts Monday and runs through Sept. 11 in Flushing Meadow, N.Y., and like the sport itself, the tournament has several significant story lines unrelated to the matches.
Five-time winner Roger Federer (rehabbing a left-knee injury) and 2006 women's champion Maria Sharapova (serving a two-year suspension after failing a drug test) are the two most notable names missing from the draw. Add to that list seventh-ranked Victoria Azarenka, who in July announced that she was expecting her first child, and No. 8 Tomas Berdych (appendicitis).
Fresh off a silver medal in Rio, 2009 champion Juan Martín del Potro, 27, returns to the Open after being sidelined with left-wrist injuries the past two summers. He'll try to become the first unseeded entrant to win the men's title since Andre Agassi in 1994.
A $150 million retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium, which is designed to open or close in seven minutes, will make its debut at this year's tournament. That leaves the French Open's Roland Garros as the only Grand Slam venue without a means to avoid weather delays and cancellations.