The Porsche Brand Ambassador and three-time winner of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix (2012, 2013, 2014) chose Los Angeles for a reason. The city in southern California does not currently host a tennis tournament on either the main women’s or men’s tours. “I’ve been coming here to practice for so many years and felt part of the community here. I wanted to give the tennis fans in Los Angeles something back and support professional tennis in the US,” said Sharapova.
In addition to the world No. 18 Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens, Shelby Rogers and Laura Robson are also taking part in the event, as are ATP Tour players Kei Nishikori and Jack Sock. Former top players Mardy Fish and Andy Roddick are also be taking up their rackets again on Center Court of the UCLA Tennis Center on December 12 and 13.
“Maria Sharapova and Friends” opened with a mixed doubles between Madison Keys/Mardy Fish and Laura Robson/Andy Roddick, which the all-American pairing won 6-4. In the match that followed, the two American “oldies” gave little indication they had hung up their rackets. After battling for almost two hours, Mardy Fish finally edged Andy Roddick in a top class match 7-6, 4-6, 12-10.
The highlight for the fans on the first day was however the match between hostess Maria Sharapova and the American tennis hope Madison Keys who came close to putting a dampener on the hostess’ on-court premiere. In the end however Sharapova came out on top 6-7, 6-1, 11-9 in a thrilling and entertaining encounter. The day closed with a celebrity doubles when Maria Sharapova teamed up with comedy star Chelsea Handler to play Andy Roddick and the Canadian actor Will Arnett – with the better end for the women.
Sunday will begin at 1.00 pm local time with the singles match of Sloane Stephens and Shelby Rogers, followed by Kei Nishikori and Jack Sock at about 2.00 pm. After that, the mixed doubles between Maria Sharapova/Kei Nishikori and Laura Robson/Jack Sock take place, before Maria Sharapova will close proceedings on Center Court alongside Chelsea Handler in the celebrity match against Jack Sock and another star.
In addition to entertaining the audience, the event is also serving as a part of the professionals’ preparations for the up-coming season that will start in Australia in January. A part of the proceeds will be donated to Maria Sharapova’s foundation supporting underprivileged children all over the world.