Andrea Petkovic returns to defend her title as the tennis world’s only green clay event takes place in Charleston when the 2015 Family Circle Cup begins on Monday 6 April.
Watch WTA Charleston matches streamed live from the Family Circle Cup:
Defending champion Petkovic is joined by fellow top-10 players and Grand Slam semifinalists Angelique Kerber and Ekaterina Makarova as the Family Circle Cup kicks off the WTA Tour’s clay-court season.
After the first quarter of the season played mainly on outdoor hard courts, culminating in the major events of Indian Wells and Miami, the tennis world’s eyes turn towards clay and many of the WTA Tour’s strongest players will opt to begin their warm-up for the French Open at the Family Circle Cup, the only women’s tennis event held on US soil.
The Family Circle Cup has another claim to uniqueness – it’s the only professional event on the ATP World or WTA Tours held on green clay.
First played in 1973, the year that the WTA Tour was formed in a landmark development for women’s sport and permanently changing the face of tennis, the history of the Family Circle Cup is intimately intertwined with the evolution of the WTA Tour itself. Rosie Casals, the first winner of the event when it was held in Hilton Head, was one of the ‘Original 9’ – the women, led by Billie Jean King, who signed $1 agreements with World Tennis publications publisher Gladys Heldman in 1970 to compete in what would become the Virginia Slims Series – and the Family Circle Cup’s stadium court is named after King herself. The Original 9 were reunited in April 2012 at the tournament’s 40-year anniversary.
The Family Circle Cup was the first women’s tournament to offer $100,000 in prize money and the first to be broadcast on network TV. Appropriately for an event which has played such a formative role in the evolution of the WTA Tour, its champions’ roll reads like a list of many of the all-time greats of women’s tennis. Chris Evert reigns supreme with an amazing eight titles between 1974 and 1985, one of just four women in the Open Era to win the same event seven or more times, with four-time champions Martina Navratilova (1982-3, 1988, 1990) and Steffi Graf (1986-7, 1989, 1993) also occupying prominent places on the roll of honour.
Gabriela Sabatini, Conchita Martinez, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Martina Hingis, Jennifer Capriati, Mary Pierce and Venus Williams are also on the list of Family Circle Cup winners, while over the past decade Serena Williams has been the most dominant player, winning in Charleston in 2008 (d. Vera Zvonareva), 2012 (d. Lucie Safarova) and 2013 (d. Jelena Jankovic).
Williams has been joined in the Charleston winners’ circle by Sabine Lisicki (2009), Samantha Stosur (2010) and Caroline Wozniacki (2011), of whom Stosur went on to become a US Open champion while Lisicki and Wozniacki both reached Grand Slam finals and the Dane would become world no. 1. Andrea Petkovic defeated Jana Cepelova in the 2014 final to announce her return to the top echelons of women’s tennis after a painful series of injuries; she would go on to reach the semifinals of the French Open, and win titles in Bad Gastein and Sofia, cracking the top 10 for the second time at the beginning of 2015.
The popular and charismatic Petkovic returns to Charleston to defend her title in 2015, joined by fellow Grand Slam semifinalists and top-10 players Angelique Kerber and Ekaterina Makarova when the Family Circle Cup begins on Monday 6 April.
Watch the Family Circle Cup live:
1. Go to bet365
and sign in or fill in your details to open an account;
2. Click 'live streaming' and select 'tennis' from the dropdown menu;
3. Watch WTA Charleston live online!