>> Monday, April 30, 2012
The month of May is THE busiest month in the WTA calendar. During this month, there is one Grand Slam, 3 premier-level, and one international-level tennis tournament that focuses on Europe's red clay in Spain, Italy, Belgium, and France. These tournaments are on top of the tennis tournaments that started in April and which finals will be contested on the first weekend of May such as the ones on-going in Estoril and Bucharest. Let's start with the first tournament with a May start date - the Mutua Madrid Open in Spain.
Week of May 7 | $5,189,603 Mutua Madrid Open (Premier) | Madrid, Spain (Red Clay/Outdoors): Outside of the Grand Slams, this is one of the biggest women's tennis tournaments. The venue that hosts the tournament, La Caja Mágica (The Magic Box), was unveiled in 2009 at a special ceremony attended by the Spanish Prime Minister and Mayor of Madrid. The facility houses three clay courts with retractable roofs. Last year, a promising young Czech player named Petra Kvitova routed the opposition to win her biggest tournament to date. Kvitova would further achieve a bigger prize when she dominated 3-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova to win her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon.
Week of May 14 | $2,168,400 Internazionali BNL d’Italia (Premier) | Rome, Italy (Red Clay/Outdoors): Two weeks prior to the start of the French Open, the stars of the WTA travel to Rome for the Internazionali BNL d'Italia. The Premier event is one of the most prestigious stop offs on the tennis calendar and its honor roll reads like a who's who of all-time greats. Last year, Sam Stosur and Maria Sharapova were both in top form as they won straight set semifinals in Rome. With ferocious forehands and blazing backhands, Maria Sharapova won her greatest clay court title and she would be back this year as defending champion and #2-seed.
Week of May 21 | $637,000 Brussels Open (Premier) | Brussels, Belgium (Red Clay/Outdoors): The Brussels Open presented by BNP Paribas Fortis is a Premier tournament held on outdoor red clay the week before the start of Roland Garros. It was inaugurated last year and the Tournament Director is retired Belgian player Dominique Monami. Last year, then world #1 Caroline Wozniacki beat an in-form Peng Shuai in the Brussels Open final, 26 63 63. Wozniacki is not entered in the tournament this year but may request a wild card if her French Open preparation will be sub-par.
Week of May 21 | $220,000 Internationaux de Strasbourg (International) | Strasbourg, France (Red Clay/Outdoors): Created in 1987, the tournament was originally called “The Strasbourg Grand Prix”. The very next year, the Alsatian Tennis League took up the reigns and gave it the current name, often shortened to its convenient abbreviation: IS. Every year since then, the tournament has attracted many of the world’s top players, poised to prove their worth. Today it is considered one of the most historic events in the WTA line-up. In 2011, Andrea Petkovic of Germany has secured a then new career-high ranking of No.12 with her second WTA title.
Weeks of May 28 & June 4 | $TBA Roland Garros (Grand Slam) | Paris, France (Red Clay/Outdoors): Roland Garros, also known as the French Open, is the second Grand Slam of the year and the world's premier clay court event. Held in Paris at Stade Roland-Garros, it promises a scintillating two weeks of tennis from the finest male and female players in the world. In 2011, Li Na made history in 2011 by becoming Asia's first ever singles Grand Slam winner by beating defending champion Francesca Schiavone. Chris Evert has the Open Era record with seven titles.