The Citi Open in Washington will bring back the women’s tournament

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The Citi Open in Washington is bringing back the women’s tournament, which for several years was a companion event to the men’s long hard-court classic at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center.

Player commitments are pending, with an announcement of partial fields expected in the coming weeks. But Citi Open officials are expected to announce on Friday that they have signed a sanction agreement with the Women’s Tennis Association to hold a 250-level event to replace the tournament the governing body pulled from Washington in 2020.

“One of the great things about tennis is that it’s one of the few sports in which men and women often compete in the same event,” said Citi Open chairman Mark Ein, a capital -DC-born venturer who assumed management and operation of the tournament in 2019.

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As a WTA 250-level event, the women’s Citi Open event will be one rung below the men’s ATP 500-level event in terms of prize money, ranking points and field size. But from 2012 to 2019, when the women’s event was held in conjunction with the men’s tournament at Rock Creek Park, it attracted rising stars and enthusiastic audiences.

Past champions include Jessica Pegula, currently ranked 11th in the world; Sloane Stephens, 2017 US Open champion; and the doubles team of Coco Gauff and Caty McNally.

In the absence of a WTA event last summer, the Citi Open held an invitational women’s tournament featuring former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka and Americans Gauff and Pegula competing in a tournament format at the round. The results did not affect the players’ WTA rankings; it was an unauthorized exhibition.

This year’s Citi Open will be held from July 30 to August 7, its usual week on the ATP calendar, making it a logical stop on hard court as players around the world acclimate to the time zone, the East Coast heat and humidity. preparation for the Masters 1000 event in Canada which precedes the US Open in New York.

“Washington is a popular stopover among gamers,” Ein said in a phone interview. “They loved DC, loved being on the East Coast en route to Canada and the US Open. And Washington is a great tennis community.

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Founded in 1969, the Citi Open in Washington did not take place in 2020 due to coronavirus restrictions. Its revival in 2021 drew record crowds, Ein said. The tournament debut of Rafael Nadal, who has since won the record 21st men’s Grand Slam title, was a big reason for the capacity crowds last summer.

As a top 10 player, Nadal has the flexibility to choose the ATP 500-level events that best suit his schedule. Last summer, he chose the Citi Open to test his competitive readiness after a hiatus of around two months to recover from a foot injury that arose during the French Open. His return to competition was short-lived. After a third-round loss to Washington, Nadal pulled out of the remaining events of the season to undergo foot surgery.

The Citi Open was co-founded by Donald Dell and the late Arthur Ashe, who pledged to hold a professional tournament in a fully accessible public park. It is owned by the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation, which provides tennis education and educational support to young people in underserved areas of the city and is largely funded by tournament proceeds.

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