Women’s tennis is planning a return to action next month, with sixteen players, including reigning Grand Slam champions, Sofia Kenin and Bianca Andreescu, who part in the biggest event since the shutdown of the sport in early March.
They will be participating in the Credit One Bank International in Charleston, South Carolina, which is an invitational event, and does not form part of the main WTA Tour.
Unfortunately, it will be played in the absence of fans because of the coronavirus epidemic, and all health and safety protocols will need to be observed by the players and match officials. However, matches will be broadcast live on the Tennis Channel.
The 16 players featured will be divided into two teams, captained by Madison Keys, and Bethanie Mattek Sands, who will play 16 singles, and 8 doubles matches.
Restrictions on international travel mean that the rest of the field is made up of either US players, or those based in the country, with former one number one Victoria Azarenka, US Open winner Sloane Stephens, and Olympic gold medallist Monica Puig amongst those taking part.
Also in the field are Australias Ajla Tomljanovic, Canadians Eugenie Bouchard and Leylah Annie Fernandez, and local players Amanda Anisimova, Jennifer Brady, and Danielle Collins.
Charleston is a regular venue on the WTA tour, and holds a prestigious tournament every year known for marketing reasons as the Volvo Open which, in 2020, would have been celebrating its 20th anniversary. However, like so many other sporting events, that had to be cancelled following the outbreak of the coronavirus in the USA.
Tournament organisers hope that staging the event will help demonstrate that sport can resume again and provide live entertainment for fans. It is also a way to offer tennis professionals the chance to compete once more, something which has been denied to them for months.
Perhaps most importantly, it helps show frontline medical professionals battling Covid-19 how much their efforts are appreciated by tennis and the wider community.
Half of the proceeds raised by the tournament will be donated directly to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).