Bryan Armen Graham
Wednesday August 25th, 2010

Venus Williams

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams is hosting a virtual clinic Thursday from Randall's Island that will be webcast around the globe. (AP)

You know it's Open season in New York when your inbox starts filling up with invites to a laundry list of tennis-related events. The days leading up to the year's fourth and final Grand Slam become a sort of mashup of Fashion Week and the Super Bowl, as the stars arrive and take advantage of one of the world's largest media markets.

This year is no different, with a broad range of events throughout the city and no shortage of red carpet. You don't even need to be here in New York to get in on the action: Venus Williams is teaming with Polo Ralph Lauren to host a virtual tennis clinic Thursday at 2 p.m. from Manhattan's Randall’s Island. The seven-time Grand Slam champ will be answering questions, giving tips and interacting with fans from around the globe, who can log on to the live stream on RalphLauren.com.

It’s also your first chance to see Venus on the court since the sprained left kneecap that left her inactive from Wimbledon on.

The virtual clinic is just one of many events that dot tennis’ social calendar in the days before the Open. Here's a look at 12 other events leading up (and into) the tournament.

WHO: Maria Sharapova

WHAT: Evian Pop Up Photo Event

WHERE: Openhouse Gallery, Soho, Manhattan

WHEN: Tuesday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

INVITATION-ONLY?: No

THE SKINNY: Masha makes public appearance in support of Evian's "Live young Month" campaign.

WHO: Andy Roddick

WHAT: Babolat's 2010 U.S. Open kickoff event

WHERE: CityView Racquet Club, Long Island City, N.Y.

WHEN: Wednesday, 3-5 p.m.

INVITATION-ONLY?: No

THE SKINNY: Local 13-year-old contest winner to hit balls with Roddick in fundraiser for his foundation.

WHO: Serena Williams

WHAT: Hamptons magazine party

WHERE: Pranna Lounge, Midtown Manhattan

WHEN: Wednesday, 6-8 p.m.

INVITATION-ONLY?: Yes

THE SKINNY: Serena celebrates her Hamptons cover appearance; Russell Simmons expected to attend.

WHO: Melanie Oudin, Sam Querrey

WHAT: Celebration for resurfacing of McCarren Park tennis courts

WHERE: McCarren Park, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

WHEN: Thursday, 10 a.m.

INVITATION-ONLY?: No

THE SKINNY: As my SI colleague Luke Winn put it: The rare collision of hipsters and tennis (outside of Pavement songs and David Foster Wallace novels).

WHO: Fernando Verdasco, Feliciano Lopez

WHAT: Reception in honor of Spanish stars

WHERE: Trump Soho New York, Manhattan

WHEN: Thursday, 7-9 p.m.

INVITATION-ONLY?: Yes

THE SKINNY: The Spanish pair traveled to NYC together and booked rooms at the Trump Soho. They seem to be happy with it.

WHO: Andy Roddick, Victoria Azarenka

WHAT: BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis

WHERE: W Hotel, Midtown Manhattan

WHEN: Thursday, 7-10 p.m.

INVITATION-ONLY?: Anyone can attend, but it's not cheap ($275).

THE SKINNY: Haute cuisine from world-class chefs, signature cocktails, themed lounges and elbow-rubbing with the stars.

WHO: Andy Murray, Ana Ivanovic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Melanie Oudin, Justine Henin

WHAT: Barricade 10th Anniversary Celebration

WHERE: The adidas Store, Soho, Manhattan

WHEN: Friday, 7:15 p.m.

INVITATION-ONLY?: Yes

THE SKINNY: Party commemorating the 10th birthday of German shoe giant's iconic tennis shoe.

WHO: Andy Roddick, James Blake, Venus and Serena Williams

WHAT: USTA and Heineken's Official U.S. Open Player Party

WHERE: Empire Hotel Rooftop, Midtown Manhattan

WHEN: Friday, 8 p.m.

INVITATION-ONLY?: Yes

THE SKINNY: This year's official player party takes place at the Midtown hotel owned by Gossip Girl's Chuck Bass.

WHO: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, Novak Djokovic, Kim Clijsters and The Jonas Brothers

WHAT: Arthur Ashe Kids' Day

WHERE: Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Flushing Meadows, Queens

WHEN: Saturday, 11 a.m.

INVITATION-ONLY?: Depends. Admission for the grounds activities is free, but tickets start at $10 for the 1 p.m. stadium show with the Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato and David Archuleta

THE SKINNY: Exhibition matches and skills competitions, celebrities (Nick Cannon!) and musical performance on Ashe.

WHO: John McEnroe

WHAT: Dunlop Launch Event

WHERE: Union Square Ballroom

WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m.

INVITATION-ONLY?: Yes

THE SKINNY: McEnroe helps kick off the company's Biomimetic technology in an invite-only event.

WHO: Steffi Graf

WHAT: Center Court for Kids Tennis Clinic

WHERE: Central Park Tennis Center, Near 97th Street and Central Park West

WHEN: Next Thursday (Sept. 2), 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

INVITATION-ONLY?: No

THE SKINNY: The 22-time Grand Slam champion hosts a kids tennis clinic sponsored by the City Parks Foundation and USTA Eastern.

WHO: Andre Agassi

WHAT: "A Special Evening With Andre Agassi"

WHERE: Town Hall, Midtown Manhattan

WHEN: Next Thursday (Sept. 2), 8 p.m.

INVITATION-ONLY?: No, but tickets range from $95 to $250THE SKINNY: The venue's website describes it as a "combination of interview, real-time talk show, tribute and roast followed by a question and answer session."

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