“The world’s best indoor tournament”
The move from Filderstadt to Stuttgart in 2006 marked the beginning of a new era for the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. Since then, spectators in the Porsche Arena have been able to watch all the game’s top stars live plus exciting and hard-fought matches – initially on a hard court and then on clay from 2009. We will take a look back at the highlights.
1 - 2008: The Williams sisters – family gathering in the Porsche Arena
Serena and Venus Williams’ first joint visit to the Porsche Arena. Tennis fans are over the moon. Serena is the hot favourite and the No. 1 seed – and promptly starts her campaign as expected. In her opening match against Na Li, she kicks in the turbo to win the first set to love. Totally unperturbed, the Chinese sticks to her task with Asian implacability. She wins the second 6-1 and runs out a 6-4 winner in the third. What a rude awakening for the great Serena Williams. Family honour was saved by sister Venus who at least reached the semi-final where she lost to the eventual winner Jelena Jankovic. Honorary guest Larry Scott, CEO and Chairman of the WTA, is thrilled by what he has seen in Stuttgart: “The Porsche Tennis Grand Prix is the world’s best indoor tournament.”
2 - 2010: Justine Henin wins with a wild card
It had never happened before at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix – Justin Henin is the first player to win the tournament with a wild card. For the seven-time Grand Slam winner, who surprised everybody by retiring in 2008 as the reigning world No. 1 and then only returned to the WTA Tour before the 2010 Australian Open, it is her first title after coming back. The Belgian, whose one-handed backhand was described by John McEnroe as “the most beautiful shot there is in tennis”, had previously won the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix back in 2007. Playing in her fourth Stuttgart final, she stops Sam Stosur’s winning streak. After 11 straight victories on clay, the Australian suffers defeat for the first time.
3 - 2011: Sensational win for Julia Görges
Dream final in the Porsche Arena – and Julia Görges serves up the big Easter surprise: In a high-class match on Easter Sunday, the 22-year old German defeats Caroline Wozniacki, the world No. 1 from Denmark 7-6 (3), 6-3. Her deserved reward for the biggest win of career is, alongside the prize money, a Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Cabriolet. She is only the second German winner after Anke Huber (1991, 1994). Replying to the question about what she is most looking forward to, she says, “My nephew’s christening and, after three months on tour, to finally sleep in my own bed again.” A German quartet also impress in the Porsche Arena as Andrea Petkovic, Sabine Lisicki, Kristina Barrois and Julia Görges all reach the quarterfinals – a feat last achieved in 1984 when Steffi Graf, Claudia Kohde, Eva Pfaff and Bettina Bunge filled four last eight berths.
4 - 2012: Maria Sharapova honours Stuttgart with her presence
She came, saw and was victorious – the motto overrides Maria Sharapova’s first appearance in the Porsche Arena. The superstar from Russia has the crowd spellbound right from her first serve. In the dream final contested by the world’s top two players, she meets Viktoria Azarenka, the current No. 1, who had previously beaten her in four finals including two in the same year at the Australian Open and Indian Wells. At the fifth attempt, she comes out a 6-1, 6-4 winner to depart Stuttgart with 115,000 dollars prize money and a Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet – and the promise to defend her title in 2013.
5 - 2013: Successful title-defence
No film director could have staged this final any better – Maria Sharapova against Na Li, the No. 1 seed against the No. 2. The spectators in the sold-out Porsche Arena are thrilled. Previously during the tournament week, Maria Sharapova is presented as a new Porsche Brand Ambassador. Her expressed aim is to successfully defend her title, something she also tells a reporter who in all seriousness wants to know whether her garage actually has enough space for a second Porsche. Her answer shoots out like a forehand top-spin volley hit on the run – “There’s always enough space for a Porsche.” Her shots are just as precise in the final when beating Na Li 6-4, 6-3.
6 - 2014: Ana Ivanovic wins over the hearts
In an enthralling and high-class final, Maria Sharapova wins the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix for the third time in succession to equal the legendary Martina Navratilova – the American also won three in a row from 1986 to 1988. The tournament will not only be remembered for the Russian’s hat-trick but also especially for Ana Ivanovic’s farewell. She wins over the hearts of the Stuttgart crowd whose thunderous applause for their “winner” at the victory ceremony moves the Serb to tears. “I’m overwhelmed,” she says struggling to keep her composure, “I just didn’t expect it. Thanks Stuttgart.”
7 - 2014: 3 hours 23 minutes – what a match
It is the longest match in the history of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix since its relocation to the Porsche Arena 2006, and probably the most exciting. Maria Sharapova faces Lucie Safarova in the first round and it takes 3 hours and 23 minutes before the hot favourite can clinch the match 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2). In the third set, Maria Sharapova is 5-1 up but fails to convert three match points. Lucie Safarova, the world No. 26, fights back, wins five games on the trot and is only two points away from victory with the score at 6-5, 30-love. The indoor arena is going crazy. However, with her back to the wall, steely-nerved Maria Sharapova calls upon all her experience, saves herself in the tiebreak to finally secure victory. “You always have to fight until the very last ball,” she says after her 100th clay court win. “There’s no game plan for the closing stages of such matches. All that counts is one’s instinct.”
8 - 2015: First win for Angelique Kerber
Stuttgart has a new tennis queen – Angelique Kerber. The Porsche Brand Ambassador wins the final of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 against Caroline Wozniacki and is now the third German winner after Anke Huber and Julia Görges. The evenly matched encounter with long and spectacular rallies could hardly be any more tense, the tempo is breath-taking. The first two sets are over after only 57 minutes. The decisive third turns into a thriller. Caroline Wozniacki is a break down but is then 5-3, 30-all up on serve. She is only two points away from the tournament win but is unable to take her chance. Instead, Angelique Kerber breaks and goes on to win three hard-fought games in succession before clinching victory with her fourth match point after being on court for 2 hours 4 minutes. “It’s the most beautiful win of my career,” she says. “It was really tough for me when I was behind in the third set. But the crowd supported me fantastically.”
9 - 2016: Two German finalist for the first time
The recently crowned Australian Open champion eventually has the better of things – after winning in 2015, the Porsche Brand Ambassador Angelique Kerber duly celebrates her second title in the Porsche Arena by beating Laura Siegemund 6-4, 6-0 in the first ever all-German final. However, the local hero, born funnily enough in Filderstadt where the first Porsche Tennis Grand Prix was held in 1978, does not have to feel like a loser. After a two-year break from competition in which she graduated with a first-class degree in psychology, the world No. 71 starts her campaign in qualifying. Until then, she had not won a single match at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. This time however she comfortably secures herself a main draw berth and then goes on to beat no fewer than three Top 10 players on her sensational march to her first WTA final. The fact that fatigue sets in in the final against the titleholder in no way diminishes her impressive performance.
10 - 2017: Glittering jubilee and home win for Laura Siegemund
The Porsche Tennis Grand Prix is 40 – if that is no reason to celebrate. The jubilee tournament is officially opened with a glittering gala performed by international artistes and the honorary guest Tracy Austin from America, the tournament’s first winner in 1978, has a Hollywood feeling what with all the grandeur and glamour. The three-time winner Maria Sharapova makes an eagerly awaited comeback on the WTA Tour in Stuttgart after a 15-month break from competition and sparks huge worldwide interest leaving the press centre almost bursting to the seams. Her Stuttgart fans would have loved to have seen her end up as the tournament winner, but it was not to be. There was however no stopping Laura Siegemund. Like in 2017, she battles her way to the final and is not going to forgo the second chance. In winning 6-1, 2-6, 7-6 (5) against Kristina Mladenovic, she – the fourth German winner – secures her dream car for herself.