Madison Keys, Tracy Austin and local officials promote 2020 Volvo Car Open
Women’s tennis legend Tracy Austin teamed up with 2019 Volvo Car Open champion Madison Keys to help kick off the 20th anniversary season of the tournament on Daniel Island during a press event March 2.
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tournament has been hosted in South Carolina for 48 years, starting out on Hilton Head Island and relocating to Daniel Island in 2000 and transitioning its name from the Family Circle Cup to the Volvo Car Open.
The Volvo Car Open (VCO) is a “very special stop” on the women’s tour, said Austin, the tournament ambassador, noting the importance as the tour’s first clay court of the season. But it’s the warm welcome and Southern hospitality that holds a special place in the players’ hearts, she added, and why they want to return year after year.
Austin will host a new interview feature at the VCO – Tennis Talk with Tracy – where she will interview players, coaches and other guests throughout the nine-day event.
Keys returns to defend the title she won in 2019 with a win over Caroline Wozniacki in the finals. Keys’ road to a championship title was a long-fought battle, playing in the Daniel Island event for eight years. While she did reach the finals in 2015, she lost the championship round. “It was devastating not to win in 2015, because Charleston’s my favorite place to play,” she said, adding that she’s excited to get the chance to come back again this year.
The large banner that hangs outside Volvo Car Stadium heralds Keys’ victory, though she admits to having mixed feelings about seeing herself a couple stories tall. “I think I said it was my worst nightmare,” she said, with a laugh, adding she’d have to take a photo and send it to her friends. “It is definitely an honor.”
On defending her title, Keys said there is always pressure and “when you love a tournament, you want to do well at that tournament.”
Bob Moran, VCO tournament director, and his team get high praise from Austin, Keys and many other players.
“Everyone is so excited for us to be here,” said Keys. “It feels like a home tournament for everyone.”
Moran noted that he is proud that the VCO has not only endured the past 20 years, but is thriving.
Mayor John Tecklenburg said that while he didn’t have the numbers on hand, he knows the tournament has a “huge economic impact in a meaningful way.” Back when the tournament came to Daniel Island in 2000, Tecklenburg had just opened his family store, Tecklenburg Market & Cafe, and was amazed by the brisk business the tournament attracted.
Moran said that his tournament staff and players book over 2,500 hotel rooms in the area during the event, and that doesn’t even count visitors and fans.
But more than just the economic impact, Moran pointed to the philanthropic influence the tournament has on the community. From cash donations to local nonprofits to welcoming children to attend for free, it all reflects the sense of community tournament officials feel.
Keys, who has been an ambassador for FearlesslyGiRL, an anti-bullying organization, is broadening her reach with her new initiative – Kindness Wins – which encourages “big and small acts of kindness.” Kindness Wins will provide grants to sports teams and schools that want to grow the initiative.
“Even the smallest thing can help (someone) through the day,” Keys said.
The Volvo Car brand is a perfect fit for the women’s tournament, noted Stephanie Mangini, corporate communications and community relations for Volvo Car U.S. Operations, with the focus on lifting women up and bringing families together.
A family focus is important, said Moran, which is why the tournament is more of an event, hosting 90,000 visitors with free admission for children, live music and a wide variety of food and beverage options. “Basically, it’s a state fair out there,” Moran said, referring to opening weekend events.
Tournament officials also know that getting young players interested is significant for the future of the sport. “We want to get rackets in their hands,” said Moran.
The tournament will run April 4-12 at the Volvo Car Stadium on Daniel Island. For more information, go to VolvoCarOpen.com.