Porsche Tennis Grand Prix: Quite Special Despite Difficult Times

Porsche Tennis Grand Prix

STUTTGART/WASHINGTON, April 25, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

The 2021 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, the 44th edition which kicked off the European spring clay season, wrapped up Sunday in Stuttgart with Australia’s Ashleigh Barty winning titles in both singles and doubles, where she teamed with Jennifer Brady of the United States.

Prior to Sunday’s title matches, both tournament director Markus Günthardt and operating tournament director Anke Huber spoke positively as they reviewed this year’s tournament in a traditional closing press conference.

Among the press conference highlights:

Günthardt on Stuttgart: “It was a quite special Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. It hurt not being able to welcome spectators to the Porsche Arena. We cooperated intensively with the Stuttgart health authorities, the WTA and the operators of the indoor arena as well as Porsche to guarantee the highest possible degree of safety for everybody involved in the event. As far as that is concerned, we survived the week very well – above all without any corona cases amongst the players, something one can never totally eliminate. We’re therefore generally very satisfied. But we’re naturally hoping that we’ll be able to welcome spectators back in the arena in as soon as 2022.”

Günthardt on new challenges: “The Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in these difficult times was however also a chance. The event industry is increasingly moving in the direction of hybrid events, therefore a mixture of on-site event and a range of digital extras. This year we’ve laid the foundation for a future all-encompassing hybrid event and have developed and implemented some new ideas. I think it’s worked out excellently. In addition to the expanded television coverage and streaming services, we’ve also offered our own live stream at www.porsche-tennis.com. Also highly popular was the fan reactions that the tennis fans could post into the arena. Up until today the fans have sent us 220,000 emojis to cheer on the players. It’s fantastic. And we’ve focused on social media. We’ve reached over one million people via the various platforms. If you add everything up, then we’re on a good path going into the future.”

Huber on the players who competed this year: “The players have been traveling for months from bubble to bubble in which they have to stay for the duration of the tournament. Up until now, we’ve only had positive feedback from them. The players have spoken of the world’s best bubble. We tried to make it as pleasant as possible for them, naturally always conforming to the distance and hygiene rules. It’s worked very well. The players obviously miss the spectators and the fantastic Centre Court atmosphere. But the team has also done everything possible to provide a fantastic atmosphere – with the Walk-on-Court, with great light effects and a DJ. The players were very eager to play and very motivated. There was actually a really good match atmosphere. Generally, we’ve all given our very best to make it a positive experience for the players.”

Huber on the quality of the tennis: “We’ve once again seen top class tennis here, and for the whole week. It started right away in the first round when Petra Kvitova and Jennifer Brady played each other. We had six Top 10 players in the quarterfinals. In the semis, we then had the world No. 1, 3, 5 and 7. Some Grand Slam tournaments would be happy to have a semifinal of the same quality. We can feel very satisfied. There were also eight Germans in the main draw which made me personally very happy. Five played their way into the main draw via qualifying. I was positively surprised by some of them. The Porsche Talent Team and the Porsche Junior Team both put on a good show. It boosts our hopes that a new generation will follow Kerber, Petkovic and Goerges. We’re very confident that there’ll be a lot to come in the future.”