9 Moments to Remember from the 2016 Volvo Car Open
Back again in Charleston, the Volvo Car Open may have a new name, but it’s the same world-class WTA tennis event on Daniel Island. Here, nine moments we won’t soon forget — and hope you don’t either.
New Name, Same Fun
With Volvo Car USA as the title sponsor, fans got a whole new look at a tournament they already knew and loved. New activations included live streaming of outside and practice courts, an emcee and live music on the beloved Althea Gibson Club Court, an added jumbotron video board inside Volvo Car Stadium, improved on-the-grounds fan activations, new dining and shopping experiences and much more.
Sloane’s Big Breakthrough
After winning one match in five previous Charleston tries, Sloane Stephens, the 23-year-old American, found her fire this year. She made her first-ever final here, saving a match in the quarterfinals and playing standout tennis before Angelique Kerber was forced to retire. In the championship bout, she stopped a red-hot Elena Vesnina, earning her fourth WTA singles title, third in 2016 and first-ever on clay.
And… She Gets a Car!
With Volvo Car USA as the new title sponsor, it had one more surprise up its sleeve by presenting Stephens with a brand-new limited edition Volvo. “Oh my goodness!” a shocked Sloane said on court. “You guys, I Just won a car.”
Vesnina Finds Her Fire
Much like Stephens, Vesnina was a revelation here this week. The Russian, in the latter half of her career, qualified for the event and then won five main draw matches in a row. In fact, she was the first qualifier in tournament history to make the final in 44 years. “I know that there’s only one winner… but here, today, I feel like I’m a winner,” a smiling Vesnina said after the final.
Garcia/Mladenovic Win Doubles Crown
Playing in their third final of 2016, new team Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic finally crossed the finish line together, beating Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova, the No. 1 seeds. It’s a second Volvo Car Open title for Mladenovic, who was the victor here in 2013 alongside one her Sunday opponents, Safarova. It’s a third doubles title for Garcia and 13th for her French countrywoman.
Venus Williams Returns to Charleston
At 35, Venus continues to play top-level tennis, and she showed that again in Charleston. Playing here for the first time since 2014, Venus won her first match before engaging in a battle to remember against hard-hitting Yulia Putintseva, who eventually won the match 6-4 in the third set after exactly three hours of play.
Young Guns on the Rise
Who are going to be future stars at the Volvo Car Open? We got a glimpse of a few of them, including quarterfinalist Daria Kasatkina, an 18 year old who had that match point against Sloane. Stephens also took out young Daria Gavrilova, an Australian with plenty of pep in her step – and her shot. And, American wild card Louisa Chirico won two matches, including an upset over Safarova, the No. 4 seed in singles.
Watch Us… From Anywhere
The Volvo Car Open partnered with Stre.am, a streaming and video company, to broadcast live practice and outside court footage on the tournament website. Fans could watch from anywhere in the world, and practice sessions featuring Stephens, Genie Bouchard and Andrea Petkovic drew massive numbers.
VIPs at the VCO
Who’s who at the Volvo Car Open? This year, Volvo Car USA executives stopped by; as did South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, the queen of how-to Martha Stewart and more. Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, James Blake and Mardy Fish made a tournament appearance too, as they competed in the PowerShares Series.