Welcome to Memory Lawn, where wtatennis.com will take a look back at some of the most memorable matches from the grass seasons of the past five years. Following our retrospective of the best of Birmingham, we move to Eastbourne on the south coast of England to cover the historic Nature Valley International, a tournament that has been an integral part of the grass swing since 1974. Rounding out the series is Jelena Ostapenko's thrilling win over Sloane Stephens in the second round of the 2019 event.
HOW THEY GOT THERE: Having struggled with injury and inconsistency over the course of the first half of 2019, Jelena Ostapenko found her footing on the British lawns, setting the Latvian up for a second-half surge.
Entering the Volvo Car Open in April with a losing record for the season, Ostapenko won back-to-back matches for the first time all year, but lost four of her five matches on Europe's red clay as a follow up.
While her early season form might not have foretold a return to her best, the Latvian had recent memories of grass-court success to draw on. On her last trip, she'd reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2018, where she was defeated by eventual champion Angelique Kerber, for her best-ever result at the hallowed Grand Slam.
Beginning in Birmingham, the unseeded Ostapenko scored wins over rising talent Iga Swiatek and the in-form Johanna Konta, before losing a three-setter to Croatia's Petra Martic, despite have match points in the second set.
Her winning ways continued as she moved to the coast, beating Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu in straight sets to seal a spot in the second round, and a match against a Top 10 player beckoned for the third time in 2019.
On the other side of the net for the was Sloane Stephens, who was making her season debut on grass after rounding into form on the European clay. The American reached the semifinals of the Mutua Madrid Open, and later reached the last eight of the French Open, where she was the 2018 runner-up, before losing to Konta.
The duo reunited for the first time in over a year, in a rematch of the 2018 Miami Open final, which was won by Stephens in straight sets.
WHAT HAPPENED: It was a tale of two matches for the former Grand Slam champions, as 2017 US Open winner Stephens stormed to the first set in under 30 minutes.
The Latvian struck 20 unforced errors to just one winner - and eight double faults - in the first seven games of the match, but soon found her range and stormed to a string of games of her own.
From there, however, Ostapenko ultimately flipped 11 of the next 12 games to her side of the scoreboard.
Read the match report: 'I'm getting in form, and getting better' - Ostapenko outlasts Stephens in Eastbourne tussle
The 2017 French Open champion nonetheless saw two match points slip away as Stephens worked her way back into the match, winning consecutive games to close the gap to 5-3.
WHAT THEY SAID: Ostapenko was frank in her overall assessment of the comeback, as she reflected on her performance and how she managed to turn the match around.
"The first set was really tough for me because I couldn't really get a rhythm with my game," Ostapenko said.
"I was making many unforced errors, but in the second and third sets, I was trying to be more aggressive, and I think I was more in the game, more focused, and more consistent. Playing aggressive brings me good results."
The victory over Stephens, who was then ranked World No.9, was Ostapenko's first Top 10 victory in over a year.
After doing so in back-to-back rounds of the 2018 Miami Open, where she beat Petra Kvitova and Elina Svitolina in the round of 16 and quarterfinals, respectively, the Latvian was on a four match skid against the elite, and had not won a set in the last three.
"I've had five tough matches and four wins out of five," she said of her grass court exploits at the time. "I'm feeling really good because I was struggling a little bit at the beginning of the season, being injured last year.
"It was very tough for me, but I think I'm getting in form, and getting better."
WHAT IT MEANT: Even though her next match against Ekaterina Alexandrova ended in her retirement while trailing by a set and a break, Ostapenko soon picked up steam.
A first round loss at Wimbledon where she was out-foxed by Hsieh Su-wei, dropped the Latvian from inside the Top 40 to outside the Top 80, as she failed to defend any of her semifinal points from 2018, Ostapenko scored some of her best results through the ensuing summer and fall.
After a trio of first round exits at majors in 2019, Ostapenko won consecutive matches for a third-round showing at the US Open, and she earned a victory over then-World No.2 Karolina Pliskova in the first round of the China Open in Beijing.
It was in the European indoor season where Ostapenko ultimately shined, however, as she reached her first WTA singles final in 18 months at the Upper Austria Ladies' Linz, losing to Coco Gauff, before beating Julia Goerges in the final of the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open in her final tournament of the season.