City's female tennis stars start countdown to Birmingham Nature Valley Classic
Posted: Thu, 17 May 2018 14:26
One of Britain's greatest ever tennis players joined a host of other female tennis stars from her home city to look ahead to this year's Nature Valley Classic Birmingham, which takes place in a month's time.
Former British No 1 Ann Jones, who won eight Grand Slam titles during an illustrious career, was at the Edgbaston Priory Club – the venue for the Classic - with Birmingham's current British Under- 18 champion Lillian Mould. They were joined by local female coaches, junior players and ball girls from Bishop Challoner Catholic College in Kings Heath to celebrate women's tennis in the city ahead of the prestigious women's tournament.
Jones, also from Kings Heath, has a long association with the tournament, which is now in its 38th year. She played an important role in getting it onto the international WTA (Women's Tennis Association) circuit and her contribution was recognised in 2012 following the £5 million refurbishment of the venue when the new centre court was named after her.
The line-up for this year's tournament, which takes place between June 16th-24th, is one of the strongest yet with reigning Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza, two-time Wimbledon champion and defending Birmingham champion Petra Kvitova, five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova, British star Johanna Konta and US open finalist Madison Key among those confirmed.
Ann Jones commented:
"Birmingham has always had a strong female tennis scene and it was great to speak to the young players and coaches who are part of that here today at the Edgbaston Priory Club and meet some of female volunteers who help make the tournament such a success."
"This is a great event for tennis and sport in the Midlands and I'm proud to see how far it has come over the last 37 years. To have some of the world's best players here next month will hopefully help inspire the next generation of young female tennis players in the city and I'm looking forward to seeing the action."
Nature Valley Classic Tournament Director, Patrick Hughesman, added
"The tournament has really gone from strength to strength over the years and is a real highlight in the Midlands sporting calendar. Ann, who is such an iconic figure locally and globally for the game, has played really important part in helping put it on the map."
"With one of our strongest ever line-ups and ticket sales up on this time last year, it promises to be a fantastic nine days of tennis. The city and the region is great at putting on live sport and there is real buzz around that at the moment which we are proud to be part of."
Lillian Mould, who took the Under 18's British title last August, said:
"Having the tournament here in Birmingham and on my doorstep is amazing. To get the chance to see some of the world's best players live is inspiring not just for me but for lots of other local young players. I'd love to be able to play at the tournament one day and maybe even follow in Ann's footsteps."
Fans attending this year's Classic, a traditional curtain raiser for Wimbledon, will also be able to experience the touring 'Explore Wimbledon' exhibition showcasing the history of the famous tournament, which celebrates the 125th anniversary its the women's singles championship this summer. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Open Era in tennis, which saw the game transformed into a modern day professional sport. Ann Jones was at the forefront of the historic change to the game and reached the semi-final of the first ever Open Era Wimbledon in 1968.
For more information on this year's Nature Valley Classic and to buy tickets visit https://www.lta.org.uk/major-events
For Midlands tennis fans who can't wait that long to get their fix the From 19 – 27 May, a host of British and international stars will battle for the inaugural Loughborough Trophy title at Loughborough University.
For more information visit https://www.lta.org.uk/loughboroughtrophy