By Brent Jonas
When you are a pioneering event in women’s professional sports with numerous milestones and a successful run of 43 years, you have celebrated many firsts. For example, did you know that our WTA Premier event was the first women’s tennis event to be broadcast on national television (in 1973)? Or that it was also the first women’s tennis tournament to offer $100,000 in prize money? While the tournament is now broadcast to over 95 million fans worldwide on ESPN2 and Eurosport, and players now compete for almost $700,000 in prize money, the firsts continued in April 2016 on Daniel Island as the tournament celebrated its inaugural run as the Volvo Car Open.
With a list of champions that reads like a women’s tennis Hall of Fame – Chris Evert, Venus and Serena Williams, Steffi Graf, and Martina Navratilova to name a few – the former Family Circle Cup has thrilled fans since it began in 1973. Having relocated to Daniel Island in 2001, the tournament has become a fixture on Charleston’s spring calendar alongside the Cooper River Bridge Run, the Flowertown Festival, and Spoleto. This year was no exception, as the nine-day run drew almost 100,000 fans to see the world’s best WTA stars compete for the newly renamed Volvo Car Open title.
Before they decided to sponsor the tournament, Volvo made the decision to locate their first North American manufacturing facility in Berkeley County in the Charleston region, where they will produce the new S60 sedan in 2018. While the new S60 is still a couple of years away, fans at the Volvo Car Open were able to interact with several of Volvo’s other new vehicles, including the award-winning XC90 SUV and the new S90 flagship sedan. And, speaking of new vehicles, 2016 Singles Champion Sloane Stephens got the surprise of the tournament, as Volvo Car USA President and CEO Lex Kerssemakers presented her with a powder blue Volvo V60 Polestar to go along with her winner’s check of $128,100.
Not all of the action was on the court, as this year marked the debut of The Palmetto Club at the Volvo Car Open and the Palmetto Club reception. This new “event within an event” brought together Volvo Car representatives, economic development partners, and Palmetto Club sponsors. Governor Nikki Haley was also on hand to talk with site selectors and members of the business community in a setting that is sure to become a fixture at future tournaments.
The Charleston Regional Development Alliance was thrilled to be involved in such a successful event, which would not have been possible without the tournament staff and talented professionals behind the scenes at The Palmetto Club. Volvo shared the excitement, as Lex Kerssemakers told David Wren of The Post and Courier, “it’s been very good. The Volvo brand is big, but we want to be intimate, connect with the customers and dialog with the customers one-to-one. When you see this fantastic, charming stadium and it’s all relaxed and intimate, it fits us perfectly.” We couldn’t agree more.
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Brent Jonas | Director, Stakeholder Relations
843.760.4523 | [email protected]