2021 Volvo Car Open WTA Tournament

The oldest and largest all-female tournament is in play.

By Ashton Kowalski

The Volvo Car Open WTA tournament is the largest all-women’s tennis tournament in North America. The tournament, which takes place in Charleston, South Carolina, began on April 3 and ends on April 11. Since 1973, this event has featured the sport’s top players, providing wide exposure to women’s professional tennis. The Volvo Car Open has been a staple of women’s professional tennis from the beginning, with the first champion in 1973, Rosie Casals, awarded the largest payout to a woman in any sport that year. 

As the oldest all-female professional tournament in America, the event allows former champions like Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens, Kiki Bertens, Andrea Petkovic and Madison Keys, to return year after year as the competition grows. The return of past champions gives new opportunities for young players such as Coco Gauff, Shelby Rogers, and Jessie Pegula to compete alongside them.

Ashleigh Barty playing the 2021 Volvo Car Open
(SOURCE: Volvo Car Open, Chris Smith, WTAtennis.com)

World-ranked No. 1 Ashleigh Barty (Australia) breezed past her first opponent Misaki Doi (Japan), winning the match 6-2, 6-1. Barty went on to play No. 52 Shelby Rogers, a Charleston native, in the Round of 16 match on April 8. Rogers has had an impressive start to the tournament, as her first round win against No. 55 Kristina Mladenovic (France) was followed by a second round victory against No. 33 Amanda Anisimova (USA). The matchup against Barty proved a challenging one for Rogers, and she fell in three sets to send Barty to the quarterfinals. Although she was considered a major underdog, Rogers’ fearless playing style helped her take a set from the No. 1 and hold her own in a competitive match. 

Charleston native Shelby Rogers in her match against Kristina Mladenovic on April 6th, 2021 (SOURCE: Volvo Car Open, Chris Smith)

World No. 4 Sofia Kenin (USA) suffered two uspets in the tournament after losing in both the singles and doubles competitions. Fellow American and world No. 79 Lauren Davis defeated her in the singles draw. Kenin and partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands, a former doubles No. 1, fell to Americans Cori Gauff and Catherine McNally. The world’s No. 10 player Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands has yet to play, while No. 11 Czech Petra Kvitova won against Australia’s Storm Sanders on April 6 and will play No. 91 Danka Kovinic of Montenegro on April 8. 

Lauren Davis in her match against Sofia Kenin getting ready for the win
(SOURCE: Volvo Car Open, Chris Smith)

Reigning champion Madison Keys, who currently sits at No. 24 in the world, was knocked out of the tournament by fellow American Sloane Stephens on April 7. Stephens will advance to play No. 78 Ajla Tomljanovic (Australia) on April 8. Surprising results and upsets have become a trademark of the tournament. The event showcases how women have prevailed through challenges in unexpected ways.

This tournament began by setting a historic mark. The inaugural event in 1973 awarded the most prize money to a professional female athlete during that year. It continued to make milestones in the WTA—eventually becoming the first women’s tennis event to award $100,000. Along with the influence and exposure the tournament gives to professional female tennis players, it was the first women’s event to be broadcast on network television. 

The significance of the Volvo Car Open is beyond the sport, but continues to show the triumphant nature of professional women’s tennis players, making it happen even during the difficulties of having an event of its kind during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Volvo Car Open will stream live on the Tennis Channel until Sunday, April 11, 2021. It can be live streamed on ESPN and bet365.com. The quarter-finals begin on  April 9 between 1:00 P.M. and 10:00 P.M. Semi-final action will take place April 10 between 10:45 A.M. and 6:00 P.M. The championship match will be Sunday, April 11 from 10:45 A.M to 4:00 P.M. The broadcast schedule can be found here.

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