Madison Keys Feeling at Home in Charleston

On Easter Sunday night earlier this week, Madison Keys was on the roof of the Grand Bohemian Hotel for the Volvo Car Open player party.

A big grin spread across her face. She was holding plastic Easter eggs in her hands.

MORE: Previewing Quarterfinal Friday | Full Schedule | Updated Draws 

“I can’t find the golden egg!” She exclaimed to no one in particular. A host of other players around her were looking for that golden egg, too, promised – by tournament organizers – to have a nice prize in it for whoever found it.

Keys didn’t find said egg, but the Iowa-raised, Florida-residing American often has a smile splashed on her face while in Lowcountry. She was a finalist here in 2015 at the age of 20. It’s her sixth year playing here in a row. In 2013, her first appearance, she played Venus Williams in the quarterfinals. She’s grown up a lot since then.

Last year Keys was a finalist at the US Open and she’s made a brief appearance in the world’s top 10. While 2018 hasn’t been kind to her after a run to the Australian Open quarterfinals, she seems to be finding her footing on the green clay courts this week.

She hadn’t won a match here since that 2015 run prior to Wednesday night when she stopped Lara Arruabarrena in three sets. Thursday she followed said win with a convincing performance over Camila Giorgi in straights.

She knows the crowd is on her side and she revels in it. Friday she plays fellow American (but lesser-known) Bernarda Pera. She’d like to continue the momentum she started a few days ago.

“I always just love coming here,” she said. “[Charleston] was one of my first finals. I always have amazing memories, and I always look forward to coming and playing in front of these fans. They are truly amazing.”

What is also amazing is how Keys has used her celebrity status. With over 350,000 combined followers on Twitter and Instagram, she’s joined forces with FearlesslyGIRL, a non-profit that empowers young girls, Keys speaking out on bullying and making a connection with adolescent females.

Friday she’ll be focused back on the tennis court. As the weekend approaches, she’ll be less in search of that golden egg and more on the Volvo Car Open trophy. Charleston will be cheering her on.