The Americans are coming!
Let’s face it.
Serena and Venus Williams, the combined face of women’s tennis in the United States, won’t be in this year’s Volvo Car Open. And, the Williams sisters won’t be around forever.
Serena, arguably the greatest woman ever to play tennis, is a 37-year-old mother who focuses on only the truly big tournies that lead up to the Grand Slam events on the WTA tour. Ditto for Venus, who has a place in the all-time Top 10 but turns 39 in June.
It might not be this season, this year or the next, but the inevitable is around the corner.
The Volvo Car Open, which commences March 31, will give followers of American women’s tennis a good chance to sample tennis life without Serena and Venus. The main draw of the Volvo Car Open will begin April 1 with 64 players in the field and 10 will be from the land of red, white and blue.
Of course, there will be American heavyweights in the field with Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys as the headliners.
And there will be the local favorites who both joined the field as wild card entries, Shelby Rogers and Emma Navarro.
And there’s everyone else in between: up-and-coming Danielle Collins, Sofia Kenin, Amanda Anisimova, Taylor Townsend, Jessica Pegula and Madison Brengle.
Stephens claimed the championship in the 2016 Volvo Car Open and has competed in Charleston six times. Stephens, currently the world No. 9, is a Grand Slam champ as well. She won the 2017 U.S. Open after missing 11 months of action because of a foot injury.
Keys, currently the world No. 16, is a true fan favorite in Charleston. She has shone in Charleston, reaching the semifinals of the Volvo Car Open last April. She also reached the semifinals in 2013 and the finals in 2015.
Keys used her effort in Charleston last spring as a springboard to a most impressive season. Keys’ 2018 season includes two semifinal Grand Slam finishes (U.S. Open and Roland Garros), and the quarterfinals at the Western & Southern Open.
Collins is one of the Americans who is definitely on the rise. She is a two-time NCAA champion at the University of Virginia. The 25-year-old Collins had a most impressive rookie season on the WTA tour in 2018. She reached the semifinals in Miami and San Jose, and then reached the final four of the Australian Open in January. She also was a member of Team USA in Fed Cup play.
Rogers and Navarro will feel right at home.
Rogers is making her first appearance on the courts since Indian Wells in 2018, sidelined by a knee injury.
A former ball-girl for the event when it moved here 18 years ago from Hilton Head, she’s also had success on the green clay of Daniel Island.
In 2017, Roger reached the quarterfinals, her best showing at the Volvo Car Open.
Navarro is a Charleston native and is one of the top-rated juniors in the country.
Last year, she reached the finals of the junior doubles event at the Australian Open. She is a wild card entry into the main draw here in Charleston, thanks to strong effort at the USTA National Girls 18 Clay Court Championships last July on Daniel Island.