Mutua Madrid Open

  • dgec
  • 12 July 2013
  • 03:07

WTA tennis in Madrid dates back to 1996, with an event held the week before the French Open through 2003. Also, the Spanish capital hosted the season-ending WTA Championships in 2006 and 2007. What is now known as the Mutua Madrid Open, one of four Premier Mandatory tournaments on the calendar, debuted in 2009 running alongside the ATP event that launched in 2002.

The venue that hosts the event, 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. Center Court - Manolo Santana Stadium - can hold 12,500 people, and Court 2 - Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario Stadium - and Court 3 seat 3,500 and 2,500, respectively. That allows for up to three matches to be played simultaneously in the event of rain, a luxury that none of the four majors offer.

Since its inception, the tournament has been a leader in innovations. Those have included having models work as ball boys and ball girls, showing the finals in 3D at Spanish cinemas, having Elena Dementieva and Caroline Wozniacki play 'Underground Tennis' on the tracks of one of Madrid's busiest Metro stations in 2009 and having Maria Sharapova square off with Spanish motorcycle rider Fonsi Nieto in a speed competition of her serve against his bike in 2010. The idea that received the most attention was the event becoming the first-ever to be played on blue clay - switching from its traditional red clay - for 2012.

Back to red clay in 2013, Madrid saw its first repeat winner in Serena Williams.