|photo courtesy of WTA|
One of the event’s participants is world number 48 Jennifer Brady, the 25-year-old who— earlier this year—logged victories over Maria Sharapova, world number 1 Ash Barty, Elina Svitolina, and former world number 1 Garbine Muguruza.
Brady spoke with me last week from Orlando, Florida, where she lives. Like everyone else, she has had to make life adjustments because of the COVID-19 partial shutdown of the country, and the pause placed on professional sports.
She may be a bit luckier than some other players, though, because, she said, several other WTA tour members lives very close to her home, and others live only about ten minutes away. Also, a new tennis academy has opened in Orlando, so the group has a place to hit and practice. Brady described her recent training period as “sort of” normal.
Before everything came to a halt, Jenn Brady had been playing a lot of tennis. Then, when Indian Wells was canceled, she said that she lost a bit of motivation.
“I didn’t know when the next tournament was going to be. That was pretty hard, so then I took a little bit of time off from my tennis. And then Eleanor [Adams] reached out about the Charleston event, and then I was super-excited about that, and happy that they decided to do something, so then I got the motivation back and was able to come back and train and have something to play for.”
Brady’s down time was put to good use, however. “I did a lot of cleaning and organizing my home. I finally unpacked all of my suitcases and sorted through some old clothes, and stuff like that.” Brady describes herself as not much of a TV watcher, so—unlike many of us—her binge-watching, she said, has been limited to one show, Madame Secretary.
So many people have re-considered their priorities during the lockdown, and Brady is no exception:
“I think, you know, to appreciate the job that I have…,” she explained, “that privilege that we’re able to travel and see so many different countries and cultures and being able to compete every week and have a new opportunity every week, regardless of what the result is….I think that sometimes we take for granted being able to see so much.”
She was philosophical about the loss of tour momentum, and when I asked her if she has any specific goals for 2021, her reply was: “No, not exactly—just to kind of see where it takes me,” a decision prompted by a desire not to put too much pressure on herself.
Brady played in Charleston in 2018, and said that she’s looking forward to returning, even though there will be no fans. She also said that she, like so many other WTA players, has very positive feelings about the Volvo Car Open and those who make it possible.
The green clay suits Brady's game, which she employs most comfortably on hard courts. In 2017, Brady reached the round of 16 in singles at both the Australian Open and the U.S. Open, and she reached the semifinals in doubles (with Alison Riske) at the 2019 Australian Open.
The Credit One Bank Invitational will consist of sixteen singles matches and eight doubles matches, and will receive forty hours of coverage on Tennis Channel. 2019 Volvo Car Open champion Madison Keys and Bethanie Mattek-Sands will serve as team captains. The largest tennis event confirmed since professional tennis came to a halt, the tournament will also serve as a fund-raiser for Medical University of South Carolina’s frontline healthcare workers.
“Ever since the unfortunate cancellation of this year’s Volvo Car Open due to the Coronavirus, we have been working tirelessly to figure out how and when to appropriately bring a world class event back to Charleston as quickly and safely as possible,” said Bob Moran, President of Charleston Tennis LLC, in announcing the event. “This tournament will have two equal beneficiaries—traditional prize money for the athletes, and a large fundraising structure to support frontline healthcare workers at MUSC.”
The following players will be joining Brady, Keys, Mattek-Sands, Andreescu, and Kenin: 2016 Volvo Car Open champion Sloane Stephens, Victoria Azarenka, Amanda Anisimova, Monica Puig, Ajla Tomljanovic, Danielle Collins, Alison Riske, Shelby Rogers, Eugenie Bouchard, Leylah Fernandez, and Emma Navarro.