Serena Williams headines a stellar field that includes former champions Venus Williams, Samantha Stosur, Sabine Lisicki and last year's finalist Jelena Jankovic as the Family Circle Cup goes from strength to strength in 2014.You can watch and bet on WTA Charleston live for free at bet365 > live streaming > tennis.
A Premier-level tournament offering $710,000 in prize money and featuring a 64-player draw, the Family Circle Cup in Charleston is instantly recognizable, with its green clay, wicker sofas for the players on changeovers and top-quality field.
The only WTA event to be played on green clay has a history uniquely intertwined with that of women’s tennis itself; founded in 1973, the same year as the WTA itself, it was the first women’s tournament to offer $10,000 in prize money and the first to be broadcast on network TV. The women’s magazine, Family Circle, is the longest-running title sponsor of any men or women’s tournament. Fittingly, Billie Jean King had the stadium court in Charleston named after her after the Original 9 – the founders of the WTA – reunited at the Family Circle Cup fortieth anniversary in April 2012. Rosie Casals, another member of the Original 9, was the first woman to win the title in Charleston.
Billie Jean King and Rosie Casals with Ana Ivanovic (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Originally taking place in Hilton Head in South Carolina, the Family Circle Cup moved to Amelia Island in Florida before settling in Charleston in 2001. Previous champions include most if not all of the great players of women’s tennis, led by Chris Evert, who won the tournament eight times. Justine Henin, Martina Hingis, Conchita Martinez, Jennifer Capriati, Gabriela Sabatini and Venus Williams have all lifted the trophy, with four-time winners Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova and three-time champion Serena Williams among those who have made the green clay of Charleston a happy hunting ground.
Serena Williams has dominated the tournament in recent years, winning in 2008, 2012 and in 2013. Last year, she fought her way back against Jelena Jankovic to win 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 and claim her 49th WTA tour title.
‘After [the first set] I just got really relaxed and was like, “Serena, you have to chill out and not get crazy and if you win, great. If not, you're trying. She's playing really well. Just try and do the best you can”,’ Williams said after the match.
Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic with their trophies in 2013
‘I had an unbelievable week here in Charleston,’ Jankovic said. "I love coming back here every year and I enjoy every minute I spend on this court. And I love these sofas - I've been saying that the whole week! But congratulations to Serena, she's a great champion and played a great match today.
‘Maybe next time she can play a little worse.’
Former champion Venus Williams and Stefanie Voegele were the semifinalists, with Lucie Safarova, Madison Keys, Eugenie Bouchard and Caroline Wozniacki appearing in the last eight.
Other recent winners of the tournament include Sabine Lisicki, Samantha Stosur and Caroline Wozniacki.
Williams and Jankovic are both scheduled to return in 2014, along with former champions Lisicki, Stosur and Venus Williams. The latter will be looking for her second title of 2014, along with Paris champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Other high-profile players due to appear at the Family Circle Cup in 2014 are Paris finalist Sara Errani, Australian Open semifinalist Eugenie Bouchard, Doha finalist Alize Cornet, Sorana Cirstea, Lucie Safarova, Daniela Hantuchova, Andrea Petkovic and Australian Open quarterfinalist Casey Dellacqua.
American players joining the Williams sisters include Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Alison Riske, Lauren Davis and Acapulco finalist Christina McHale.
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