The annual Taste of Tennis Gala that previews U.S. Open food with star players in attendance gives guests the best of both worlds. Where else could you see five-time U.S. Open champion Serena Williams making sushi rolls with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto?
The U.S. Open is the most-attended annual sporting event in the world. That means it is a good bet that it is also the event with the most food consumed.
The quality food has earned a terrific reputation, and the gala, now in its 15th year, offers serious star power from the tennis and culinary worlds at the W New York hotel in Manhattan.
For some of the players, food is a temptation. For others, it is a luxury.
"I don't have a specific diet," Agnieszka Radwanska says. "It's a personal thing. I have the proper weight and can eat like a normal person."
Radwanska is currently the world No. 5 and has reached as high as No. 2. Apparently, eating with no limits does not hurt her. The 25-year-old from Poland has been to a Wimbledon final and four U.S. Open fourth rounds.
At 29, Dustin Brown is experiencing a late breakthrough in his career, as he is currently No. 98 in the world. Brown defeated Rafael Nadal earlier this year, putting his name on the map. Like Radwanska, he does not limit his food habits.
"I don't have a specific diet or anything," Brown said. "Thank God with my body, I can eat what I want. Here, [in New York,] it depends what they have at the courts and at the hotel."
Sloane Stephens, 21, differs in opinion just a bit from Radwanska and Brown. The 22nd-ranked American eats as she pleases.
"I try to stay as healthy as I can during a tournament," Stephens says. "Sometimes you want to eat some bad stuff. That's perfectly normal."
One part of the players' lounge Stephens has noticed is the gluten-free section. The trend is rising and is a fixture of the U.S. Open and tennis diet, whether the players admit it or not.
"They try to keep it healthy," Stephens says.
Mike Bryan keeps to a strict diet that he is trying to include his brother, Bob, on. The 36-year-old American identical twins are the No. 1 doubles pair in the world and have 15 Grand Slam titles.
"I eat gluten-free oatmeal and gluten-free bread," Mike says. "It tastes good. It's gluten-free and sugary."
Bob shakes his head. "Chipotle twice a day," he jokes about his diet.
Although professional tennis players may mostly eat freely in their daily lives, they admit there is a strict match time (even stricter than match day) diet. There are certain ingredients that should and should not be consumed.
"Before matches, you try to have your pasta and eat a lot of bananas during the match," Brown says. "Besides that, there's nothing really that you don't eat."
Radwanska says, "I eat pasta and chicken and rice. That's the food that's always in the players' lounge. I mix it up with some fish and sandwiches, but pasta is the main thing."