Where: San Jose State University, San Jose, Calif.
When: July 29-Aug. 4
Defending champions: Mihaela Buzarnescu (singles); Latisha Chan and Kveta Peschke (doubles)
Tournament website: www.mubadalasvc.com
In its second year with a new title sponsor and venue, the 2019 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic will continue the tradition of the longest-running women’s-only professional tennis tournament in the world. The WTA Premier event is the first women’s stop on the US Open Series calendar. First held in 1971, the tournament features a 28-player singles draw and a 16-team doubles draw. Former champions include Martina Navratilova, who holds the record with five singles titles, inaugural champion Billie Jean King, four-time titlist Kim Clijsters and three-time winner Chris Evert.
The Williams sisters have combined to win the singles title five times—Venus in 2000 and 2002 and Serena in 2011, 2012 and 2014. Lindsay Davenport won the tournament three times, while Martina Hingis, Monica Seles, Zina Garrison and Andrea Jaeger each won the event twice.
The tournament’s first year in San Jose was highlighted by Serena Williams’ return to the Bay Area, but the 23-time Grand Slam champion bowed out to a dominant performance from Johanna Konta in the opening round.
After Top 2 seeds Garbiñe Muguruza and Madison Keys withdrew just before the tournament with injuries, Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu emerged to win her first WTA singles title, at the age of 30. The No. 5 seed blitzed past breakout Greek star Maria Sakkari, 6-1, 6-0, in the final after a three-set semifinal triumph over the No. 4-seeded Elise Mertens.
Venus Williams, the highest seed to compete in the event, reached the quarterfinals as the No. 3 seed before falling to Sakkari.
American Danielle Collins went one better than her compatriot, reaching the semifinals before meeting the same fate against Sakkari in a contentious battle that was one of the matches of the tournament.
In the doubles draw, Latisha Chan and Kveta Peschke defeated Ukrainian twin sisters Lyudmyla and Nadiia Kichenok, 6-4, 6-1, in the championship match.
This year’s field features three Grand Slam champions, two former world No. 1s and a host of rising stars, including a pair of Americans who became first-time Grand Slam semifinalists this season.
Amanda Anisimova (pictured above), the 17-year-old Roland Garros semifinalist, is the highest-seeded American in the initial player field, while Aussie Open semifinalist Collins returns to the event seeking to build on her run to the last four in 2018.
Wildcard Venus Williams, as well as Victoria Azarenka and Jelena Ostapenko headline the field as major titlists, while WTA Top-10ers Elena Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka figure to be the tournament’s top seeds.
All four 2018 semifinalists will return this year, with reigning champion Buzarnescu, finalist Sakkari and semifinalists Collins and Mertens all signed up.
Other notable entrants include Chinese No. 1 and WTA No. 15 Qiang Wang and Croatian Top-25 players Donna Vekic and Petra Martic.
Sabalenka, who went on to be named the US Open Series Breakout Performer of the Year, fell to American Maria Sanchez in the opening round of singles qualifying at the 2018 event. The Belarusian would have been seeded in the main draw, but was forced to qualify due to her late entry into the field. For 2019, her WTA ranking of No. 10 puts her in line for the No. 2 seed.