A memorial tribute to long-time VCO fan Heda Van Deventer
For 26 years, tennis fan Heda Van Deventer was a fiery, funny fixture in the stands of the Volvo Car Open tournament, formerly known as the Family Circle Cup. Unfortunately, this year Mrs. Van Deventer will be missed. Mrs. Van Deventer or “Heda Tennis” as she was known to her family, passed away in January at age 89.
The Washington D.C.-area native began attending the tournament when it was known as the Virginia Slim’s Classic in 1980. Over the years, Heda followed the event to all of its venues throughout the South from Richmond, VA to its current Daniel Island home.
“She never missed a year,” said her daughter Anne Wheeler of Myrtle Beach. “Even if she had to watch the finals from her wheelchair, my mother was front and center, laughing and living it up at this tournament.”
Van Deventer was a fierce competitor in her own right, says her daughter Emily Anstead of Maryland.
“She began playing tennis in her early 40’s as a way to escape her six children,” Anstead joked. “It quickly became her passion. She played tennis like she did everything in her life, with joy, verve and dedication.”
Heda played competitively for more than 40 years until her last double’s match at age 85.
“Three weeks prior to her death, my mother expressed regret that she would not be using her tickets to the Volvo Car tournament,” said Anstead. “It was sad, but also wonderful that her passion for tennis - and this event - remained undiminished until the end.”
Anstead continued, “I have no doubt my mom is cheering for her favorite players from heaven right now.”