The inaugural U.S. National Championship took place on August 31, 1881 at the Newport Casino in Newport, Rhode Island.
In the first year of the tennis championships only clubs that were members of the United States National Lawn Tennis Association were permitted to enter. A Men’s Singles and Men’s Doubles competition were played.
The first edition was won by Richard Sears of Boston, MA who went on to win seven consecutive singles titles.
From 1884 through 1911, the tournament used a challenge system whereby the defending champion automatically qualified for the next year’s final in which he would play the winner of the all-comers tournament.
In 1915 the national championship was relocated from Newport, Rhode Island to the West Side Tennis Club at Forest Hills, New York; as early as 1911 an effort was made by a group of tennis players, headed by Karl Behr from New York, to relocate the tournament to New York.