The Winston-Salem Open will host a WTA exhibition match on Wednesday, Aug. 21, between No. 1-ranked Ashleigh Barty and 15-year-old Wimbledon sensation Cori “Coco” Gauff. The match will take place at 7 p.m. on Stadium Court prior to the men’s singles third-round and doubles quarterfinal matches. The exhibition-match format will be two no-ad sets with a third-set match tiebreak.
This matchup could easily be a headliner at the upcoming US Open, and Winston-Salem Open Tournament Director Bill Oakes is excited to bring it to the Piedmont Triad. In addition to the exhibition match Wednesday, it is anticipated fans will be able to watch Barty and Gauff spend considerable time on the Wake Forest Tennis Complex practice courts in their preparation for the US Open.
“We have two of the biggest names in women’s professional tennis and two of the most popular players in women’s professional tennis,” Oakes said. “We think this exhibition will be a big hit with our fans.”
Barty, a 23-year-old Australian, is one of the most popular players on the WTA circuit. She vaulted into the No. 1 ranking after winning the title at Roland Garros and then reached the fourth round at Wimbledon. She owns six career WTA singles titles and 10 more doubles crowns and has won three singles titles this year, including Miami and Birmingham.
“Having the No. 1 player in the world looking forward to coming to Winston-Salem to play, practice and get ready for the US Open is such a treat for us,” Oakes said. “Her team is very familiar with Winston-Salem because her agent has been here many times with men’s players. He knew exactly what to expect, so when we met, it was very easy for us. He’s like, ‘You’re the perfect place for her to practice. You’ve got good courts, good restaurants, her boyfriend is a golfer, so he can play some golf when he’s around.’ It was just a very easy and pleasant conversation with Ashleigh’s team.”
Gauff (pictured above), a 15-year-old from Delray Beach, Fla., who goes by the nickname Coco, made her big splash at Wimbledon. She received a wild card into qualifying and breezed through her three matches without losing a set. Then she routed Venus Williams in the first round and won two more matches in advancing to the second week. She’s formerly the No. 1 junior in the world and won the 2018 French Open girls’ title. She is limited because of her age as to the number of WTA events she can play, but those rules don’t apply to exhibitions.
“Gauff appears to be the next great charismatic tennis player,” Oakes said. “For us to have her at this stage of her career, to come to Winston-Salem and get ready for the Open, we’re really excited. We’re in a good place to help her get prepared. When I talked to her agent about the opportunity, I was excited because we know that getting prepared for the year’s final major on the women’s side is very difficult. But they see what we offer is a great place to rest and prepare.
Tickets to the WTA exhibition match are now available online at WinstonSalemOpen.com/Tickets.
The 2019 Winston-Salem Open will be held Aug. 17-24 at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex adjacent to BB&T Field. The official Winston-Salem Open app is available to download now in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. For more information on how to download the app, visit WinstonSalemOpen.com.