Madison Keys wins on and off the court

American tennis pro takes home 2019 VCO crown and ‘Player Who Makes a Difference’ award

Madison Keys had a winning weekend in Charleston. On Sunday, Keys scored her first WTA championship in two years, defeating Caroline Wozniacki to win the Volvo Car Open. Earlier in the weekend, Keys won the “Player Who Makes a Difference” award. She is the second recipient of the prize. In 2018, former Daniel Island resident Shelby Rogers, who launched a career comeback at the VCO last week, received the inaugural honor.

The VCO honored Keys on Friday, April 5 at the Dewberry Hotel for her anti-bullying work and partnership with FearlesslyGIRL. Keys joined the organization in 2016 as an ambassador because she wanted to do something to make the world a little better. FearlesslyGIRL is an international organization that empowers young women through innovative school assemblies, classroom curriculum, and on-campus clubs.

Sponsors and WTA officials from around the world attended the gala to show Keys some Southern love. The player was a little late to the party, but she had a good reason. For the first time in four tries, Madison Keys defeated good friend and fellow American Sloane Stephens in the quarterfinals of the VCO.

As she rushed on stage, she was greeted with a standing ovation. Keys joked, “I’m in a much better mood. I tried to get here quicker, but Sloane and I were out there battling!”

Keys expressed her affection for the VCO and the WTA charities.

“I love this tournament,” she told the crowd. “It’s one of my favorites. Every year it’s the first one I sign up for. It feels like home and coming here is always amazing. So to have Bob and Eleanor, and the WTA charities, recognize what I’m doing is really humbling.”

The Tennis Channel’s Tracy Austin and Andrew Krasny hosted the evening’s festivities. Krasny described Keys as “a player who really gives back to the community.”

“She is really making a difference in young girls’ lives,” added Austin.

After a short video on Keys and the anti-bullying organization, VCO Tournament Director Bob Moran and Tournament Manager Eleanor Adams presented Keys with a $10,000 check for the FearlesslyGIRL charity.

Moran told the audience how touched he was by one of Keys’ kind gestures. She was the first person that ever sent Moran and Adams a handwritten thank you note.

“I can’t tell you, for a group of people that run a tournament, how much that means,” said Moran. “What (Madison) does outside the court is very special, she makes a difference every day. It’s very important.”

Keys didn’t experience bullying until turning pro at age 14. She became a victim of the all too common cyberbullying. Keys hit back and responded to the negative online tweets and posts. After receiving so many positive comments from young girls who were bullied, she decided to use her celebrity status to make a difference.

At a VCO press conference earlier in the week, Keys summed up her feelings about bullying. “You have to remember you’re a good person,” she said. “…Try not to take anything too personally.”

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