Past champions to return for another shot at VCO crown
It has served as a launching pad for some of the greatest young tennis players in the world, and it has turned mere humans into legends.
The Volvo Car Open has had quite the history since its inception in 1973 when the Family Circle Cup first held court on Hilton Head Island. Thousands of players have competed in the annual clay-court challenge, and yet only a handful have been called champions.
This year’s event will showcase the upstarts, spotlight the contenders and salute champions. Reigning champ Kiki Bertens returns to Daniel Island to defend her crown as she bids to improve on her world No. 8 ranking. But she’s not the only woman in this year’s field who has lifted the championship trophy to the sky in celebration.
Four other past champions will compete in this year’s event, which begins March 30 with qualifying play and concludes April 7 with the finals. The other past champs in the field include Sloane Stephens, Caroline Wozniacki, Andrea Petkovic and Sabine Lisicki.
Bertens might have had the hardest path to the title in the 2018 event. Rain wiped out semifinals play on Saturday and she had to defeat two opponents on the final day to claim the title. She began the day with a victory in a three-hour match over Madison Keys and then needed less than an hour to top Julia Goerges in the final.
Stephens and Wozniacki both have great memories of their time in Charleston. But that’s not all they have in common. Both have Grand Slam championships.
“Welcoming back two of our own champions is a great way to kick off the 2019 tournament,” Eleanor Adams, Volvo Car Open tournament manager said in announcing the players return to Charleston. “Both Caroline and Sloane have had sensational seasons, and already having two Grand Slam champions in our field takes our competition to the next level. We know our fans are in for a very special week in 2019.”
Stephens, currently the world No. 9, won the 2017 U.S. Open after missing 11 months of action because of a foot injury.
Stephens claimed the championship in the 2016 Volvo Car Open and has competed in Charleston six times. She owns a 6-5 record on Daniel Island.
“I can’t wait to play in Charleston,” Stephens said. “I’ve been disappointed that injuries have kept me from competing in the Volvo Car Open the last two years. Charleston is one of my favorite cities, and I’m ready to finally return.”
Wozniacki, currently the world No. 13, won the Australian Open, her first Grand Slam title 2018. She is 16-4 in Charleston and won the title in 2011 after reaching the final two years earlier.
The German Petkovic, world No. 67, won the Family Circle Cup in 2014 and reached the semifinals in Charleston the following year. This will be her seventh appearance in Charleston, where she owns a 12-5 record.
Lisicki is a wildcard entry in Charleston. She won here in 2009 when the event was known as the Family Circle Cup. It marked the first title in her career.