Where: Stanford University, Stanford, CA
When: Aug. 3-9, 2015 (qualifying starts Aug. 1)
Defending Champions: Serena Williams (singles); Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro (doubles)
Tournament Website: BankoftheWestClassic.com
History: A West Coast tennis tradition since 1971, the Bank of the West Classic champions list reads like a “who’s who” of legendary women’s players. Four-time US Open singles champion Billie Jean King won three solo titles in Stanford (1971-72, 1974), along with four doubles crowns. Another International Tennis Hall of Famer, Martina Navratilova, owns the all-time tournament record for singles titles with five (1979-80, 1988, 1991, 1993).
American Lindsay Davenport is a three-time singles winner and a six-time doubles winner, the latter being a tournament record. Amazingly, Davenport won those six doubles titles with six different partners, the last coming in 2010 with Liezel Huber.
2014 Recap: No. 1 seed Serena Williams earned her third Bank of the West Classic championship in a span of four years by defeating Angelique Kerber in straights sets, 7-6, 6-3. Germany’s Kerber, seeking to become the first left-handed Stanford winner since Navratilova in 1993, raced out to a 5-1 advantage and was serving for the first set at 5-2. But Williams saved two set points and proceeded to win five consecutive games. Tied at 6-6, Williams took a 5-0 lead in the tiebreak and never looked back en route to her 61st career WTA singles title.
In doubles, a pair of Spain’s finest reigned as the duo of rising 20-year-old star Garbine Muguruza and veteran Carla Suarez Navarro won it all as No. 3 seeds. The Spanish partners dispatched unseeded Paula Kania of Poland and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, 6-2, 4-6, [10-5], in the final.
2015 Preview: The longest-running women’s-only professional tennis tournament in the world will once again be the WTA’s first stop during the 2015 Emirates Airline US Open Series, with the qualifying draw beginning on Aug. 1. The 2015 main draw (updated July 31) is scheduled to include Top 10 players Caroline Wozniacki, Agnieszka Radwanska and Suarez Navarro, as well as Kerber and up-and-coming Americans Madison Keys and CiCi Bellis.
Fun Fact: Fueled by her Bank of the West Classic victory, Williams went on to win the 2014 Emirates Airline US Open Series title as well as the US Open crown. And she is hardly the first to pull off that double. In fact, on 15 occasions the Bank of the West Classic champion has won the US Open later in the same summer.
- Nicholas J. Walz