NEW YORK, NY, USA - After racking up an impressive seven WTA titles in 14 months, Elina Svitolina added yet another trophy to her ever-growing case winning the Tie Break Tens tournament at Madison Square Garden.
Featuring an all-WTA lineup for the first time, Tie Break Tens is an exhibition tournament where eight players compete in a knock-out format, with each match consisting of a super tie-break to ten points.
Svitolina notched decisive wins over Venus Williams (10-3), CoCo Vandeweghe (10-0) and Zhang Shuai (10-3) to raise the trophy in the iconic venue - and pocket the $250,000 winner’s prize.
“Playing here in Madison Square Garden with such amazing players was an incredible experience,” Svitolina said. “I’m really happy that I was playing great tennis from the start, and winning this is something very special.”
Meanwhile, Serena Williams and Marion Bartoli stepped out onto the black court for the first time in one of the night’s most anticipated moments.
“It’s been fun [getting back to work], I’ve been having so much fun being a mom, and having time off is good too,” Serena said in an on-court interview. “I’m just excited to be back and playing here, in Madison Square Garden, you can’t beat it.
“I’m just having fun tonight - it’s just a great opportunity for me to play.”
Bartoli got off an early lead against Serena, punching her signature two-handed forehands and backhands through the court. But, in a very encouraging sign for Serena fans, the American’s fearsome serve was firing - despite trailing for most of the tiebreak, a pair of back-to-back aces put her in the lead and strong, unreturnable serves gave her a 10-5 victory over the former Wimbledon champion.
Bartoli said, “I’ve been trying to get back into playing tennis, which is something that I love the most and to have this experience with Serena who is my greatest friend means so much. I was so excited for this match.”
Serena fell in her next match to Zhang Shuai, 13-11.
For semifinalist Vandeweghe, just taking the court at The Garden was a special moment; she’s the third generation of Vandeweghes who have competed here after her grandfather Ernie - a star forward on the Knicks from 1949 to 1956 - and her uncle Kiki - also a Knicks player, who was watching from the stands.
“It’s so cool to play here in Madison Square Garden, I have so many memories of coming here as a kid and watching the games,” Vandeweghe said.
Tie Break Tens also donated $35,000 to the Women’s Sports Foundation to support its programs and further its mission to improve the health, education and leadership skills of girls through equitable access to sports.