These rare memories show Serena Williams’ dominance in tennis


It’s not every day that you come across a memento from the US Open, especially one used by a tennis legend like Serena Williams. But eBay seller Barry Meisel of the MeiGray Group store has a rare exception in the form of the actual nets used in the US Open tennis championships – including nets from the 2013 and 2014 finals, which gave Serena two of her 23 singles championships.

The MeiGray Group was started in 1997 by Barry and fellow athlete Bob Gray. Barry, a former sports journalist, says he was a collector long before it was fashionable. “In the 1980s,” he says, “it was really a niche hobby, under the table. I had the idea of ​​partnering with teams and leagues to basically run the worn game [memorabilia] space.”

MeiGray has worked with the NBA, NHL and many other leagues, but one of his most interesting contracts was with the United States Tennis Association, or USTA, he said. “In 2012, we contacted the USTA, and for four years we were the official authenticators for the US Open.” This means, according to Barry, that the USTA has officially given MeiGray the green light to certify the authenticity of the equipment they have sold, a process that involves maintaining a database, verifying serial numbers series and holograms, cross-checking with official photos and all sorts of other ways to ensure that the goods are the real deal. “We were literally on the pitch, picking up the balls used in matches, the chairs that were on the pitches, and we were taking the nets after every league game.”

Credit: Matthew Stockman, Getty Images Sport

For Barry, the US Open is not only the last major tournament of a resolutely international tennis season; it is the event of his home town. MeiGray is based in Branchburg, New Jersey, less than 80 km from New York. “Of course we’re domestic and international,” Barry says, “but the US Open is in our backyard, so it was a natural fit for us.”

MeiGray also uses its own online store, but has maintained an eBay page since 2000. “We use eBay to get that mass appeal,” he says. “eBay has more eyes than anyone.” And that’s a huge plus for a souvenir seller with global appeal.

behind the nets

MeiGray has sold many in-game used US Open memorabilia – technically used in games, but the nets are very unusual.

At the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (Queens, New York, host of the US Open), the equipment isn’t exactly your standard gear. Professional tennis has a more complex setting than most sports; it offers various tournaments organized by several organizations. Individual tournaments therefore have some freedom with their nets, as long as they adhere to certain parameters.

The International Tennis Federation, or ITF, is the governing body of professional sport and imposes certain rules regarding the net itself: the height of the posts (3.5 feet), the height in the center of the court (3 feet), the width of the band at the top of the net (between 2 and 2.5 inches) as well as its color (“completely white”), and the size of the holes in the mesh (“of a mesh small enough that a ball can’t get through this”). But that leaves a certain freedom, and the nets vary.

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MeiGray is currently selling three nets from the US Open, one used in the 2013 and 2014 singles championship match (men’s and women’s) and one from the 2014 men’s doubles championship match. especially since Serena Williams retired this year from professional tennis, cementing her career as the greatest to ever play. Williams won the singles championships in 2013 and 2014 using those same nets.

So who’s most interested in owning a polyethylene throughout Serena’s career? “Someone with a tennis court, who likes the idea of ​​having the actual net that was used at the US Open,” says Barry. They may be the best tennis nets in the world, but tennis court sizes are standardized these days, and these nets should fit almost any court. Of course, not every court can let their players fulfill their fantasy of serving like Serena.

“*eBay and its affiliates have not independently verified the authenticity of the items mentioned in this article, which are not part of eBay’s Guaranteed Authenticity program. »

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