A sold-out Stadium Court at the Sony Open — Photo courtesy of Sony Open TennisWhether you’re an avid tennis fan or not, the place to be in Miami in March is the Sony Open on beautiful Key Biscayne. Originally dubbed the ‘Winter Wimbledon’, the Sony Open has grown to be one of the most respected tennis events in the world, surpassed only by the Grand Slams. In fact the Open is now referred to as the 5th Grand Slam event with $11-million in prize money up for grabs.
It’s also regarded as the most glamorous event on the professional tennis circuit. In 2007 Sony took over as the title sponsoring helping to turn the serious competition into a serious party. Red carpet events were added to the lineup along with fashion shows, concerts and more. Mixed with the electric energy of Miami, you can be certain it’s an event the A-list crowd wont miss.
The first ball is served March 17th at 10am in the 13,800-seat stadium at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park. The finals are scheduled for March 29th and 30th.
Tim Mayotte and Martina Navratilova were the first champions of the tournament in 1985. The women’s finals between Navratilova and Chris Evert, was a sellout, the first of many more to come. Andy Murray defeated David Ferrer 2-6, 6-4, 7-6, to win the 2013 Men's Championship — Photo courtesy of Sony Open Tennis
This years tournament will feature fierce competitors like Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and Li Na to name a few.
The substantial Latin population in Miami, and in attendance, often turns the matches into a soccer-like atmosphere, with crowds chanting and singing for players representing their home country. This isn't your grandma's tennis match, exuberant fans turn the event into the spirit of a soccer game — Photo courtesy of Sony Open Tennis
As the tournament has grown, so has the level of amenities. Ticket holders can dine on traditional Latin and South American cuisine, sushi, BBQ, pizza and burritos and more. Guests wanting to get out of the sun and relax can enjoy the Moet & Chandon Champaign and Sushi Bar next to the Stadium Court, the Bombay Saphire Lounge or the Latin Café & Bacardi Bar.
The most affordable tickets are in the grandstand and matches early in the tournament. You can find them as low as $11 in the opening days, increasing steadily to $85. The closer you sit to the action the more you’ll spend, upwards of $600 for the finals. 2013 Women's Champion Serena Williams signing giant, commemorative tennis balls — Photo courtesy of Sony Open Tennis
Rickenbacker Causeway is the only way on and off this seven-mile long, two-mile wide island, and with attendance over the two-week tournament topping 300,000, it stands to reason there will be traffic back-ups. If you are doing the driving, be sure to leave extra early. While some ticket packages make special accommodations for parking, for $12 most visitors will be directed to the General Parking lots across from the Miami Seaquarium; which is worth a visit while you’re in town. Shuttles are available for transport to the main entrance.
Shuttles also make the rounds between hotels on the island and in the nearby, trendy Coconut Grove neighborhood. Be sure to check the times for last pick-up or you may be taking a taxi home. A taxi or bus works best if you’re staying on fashionable South Beach and don’t have your own wheels
While visiting Key Biscayne, take some time to enjoy one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida, just about any kind of water sport you can think of, or book an exciting deep-sea fishing excursion.
The island is about 15 miles from Miami International Airport but check out Fort Lauderdale as an alternative. It will take an additional 30-minutes drive time but could save you big bucks.