Across six decades, Austria proved a popular stop in the WTA's summer swing, with its scenic clay courts in central Europe boasting picturesque views of the Alps and a decorated list of champions.

Over its 44 editions dating back to 1968, the tournament was held in seven Austrian cities and counted Hall of Famers Billie Jean King, Chris Evert and Hana Mandlikova among its champions.

The event's first edition was held in Pörtschach in 1968 before it returned there in 1999, but enjoyed nearly 20 years in Kitzbühel from 1969 to 1983 and again from 1990 to 1993. Other venues for the event came in Bregenz from 1985 to 1986; Maria Lankowitz from 1994 to 1998; and Klagenfurt in 2000.

After a one-year stop in the capital of Vienna was added into the calendar 1979, the tournament again returned there from 2001 to 2004, before it finished its storied run with an eight-year stint in Bad Gastein from 2007-15. 

Whatever its venue, the tournament played host to several notable moments in WTA history over the years, from the supremacy of a former French Open winner, to classic championship runs for home favorites and more.    

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A Romanian Reigns Supreme: Virginia Ruzici's Dominance

The most successful champion in tournament history was Romania's Virginia Ruzici, who won the event four times in 1978, 1980, 1982 and 1985 and was runner-up in 1976 and 1984. 

Ruzici, best known for winning the 1978 French Open title, had a long track record of success on clay and won nine of her 12 career WTA titles on the surface. 

After winning her maiden Slam in Paris, Ruzici lifted her second title of the 1978 season in Kitzbühel, beating Germany's Sylvia Hanika in the final. 

Ruzici remained the only Romanian to ever reach the singles final until 1995, when Ruxandra Dragomir reached her first-tour level singles final in Maria Lankowitz.

Nearly 20 years later in 2013, Raluca Olaru followed in the footsteps of her compatriots by reaching the lone WTA singles final of her career in Bad Gastein.

Elite Austrians: Three Straight Singles Champions

The home country had some of its greatest successes at the tournament in the mid-1990s, as three straight Austrian singles champions were crowned in Maria Lankowitz, in the state of Styria, from 1995-97.

Three times a runner-up in 1991, 1993 and 1994, Austria's Judith Wiesner finally entered the winner's circle by beating Dragomir in the singles final in 1995.

The following year, Barbara Paulus was awarded the winner's trophy in the first game of the match, as Italy's Sandra Cecchini - the 1986 champion in Bregenz before the event went on a three-year hiatus - played just four points in the final before retiring with a foot injury. 

Barbara Paulus in action at the 1996 US Open, weeks after winning her fifth career WTA title and first on home soil.

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Barbara Schett made it a hat trick for Austrians in 1997 at age 21, coming from a set down to defeat Slovakia's Henrieta Nagyova, 3–6, 6–2, 6–3.

Schett later went on to hoist a second trophy on home soil in 2000, beating Patty Schnyder, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, in a thrilling final in Klagenfurt. 

It took 13 years for an Austrian to become the singles champion again: in 2013, unseeded Yvonne Meusburger thrilled the home fans by knocking off a pair of seeds en route to winning her first WTA title without losing a set.

Super Six: Highlighting German Greatness

Neighboring Germany had some of the best success at the event in its history, no matter where it was held. A total of six Germans lifted the singles trophy in Austria, beginning with Helga Niessen in 1970 and Katja Ebbinghaus in 1972.

Hanika was the most successful German player to not win a title at the event, having finished runner-up three times in 1978, 1979 and 1981 in Kitzbühel. In 1981, she was beaten in the final by compatriot Claudia Kohde-Kilsch, who also went on to pick up a second title in 1990.

Later in the 1990s, Anke Huber won back-to-back titles in 1993 and 1994, and in the current era, both Andrea Petkovic and Julia Goerges won their first career titles in Bad Gastein, in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Andrea Petkovic won her first career title in Bad Gastein in 2009.

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The future Top 10 players had never reached a WTA final prior to their winning efforts on the Austria clay in those seasons, and Petkovic went on to win a second title in Bad Gastein in 2014, the year in which she won a career-best three titles.

A Special Story: Sandra Klemenschits Defies the Odds

In one of the most emotional scenes in tournament history, Sandra Klemenschits became the third Austrian in tournament history to win the doubles event, but not before she overcame the odds to do so.

The doubles specialist began her professional career in the mid-1990s alongside twin sister Daniela as teenagers, and the twins racked up a decorated resumé on the ITF Circuit.

Daniela (L) and Sandra (R) Klemenschits representing Austria in Fed Cup in 2005.

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Capturing 20 ITF doubles titles together in all and representing Austria in Fed Cup in 2005, the duo reached the final in Istanbul that year to go along with two other semifinals to first crack the Top 100 in the rankings.

In 2007, the pair were diagnosed with a rare form of abdominal cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, and bravely battled the disease for over a year before Daniela tragically passed away on April 9, 2008 at the age of 25.

In remission, Sandra made an inspiring return to professional tennis later that year in Bad Gastein paired with German Marlene Weingartner as a wildcard entry, and proceeded to have eight more years in professional tennis.

Sandra Klemenschits and Meusburger in action in doubles at the 2014 Australian Open.

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In 2013, the Austrian had one of her best seasons, which saw her reach the second round of Wimbledon and the US Open - her first match two victories at Grand Slam level - and partner Andreja Klepac to her first WTA doubles title in Bad Gastein.

The duo knocked off the No.3 seeds en route to winning the title, and did not drop a set in the final three rounds before defeating Kristina Barrois and Eleni Daniilidou in the final, 6–1, 6–4. In addition to Klemenschits' emotional victory, the title was also Klepac's first tour-level doubles crown. 

In the second half of her career, Klemenschits ultimately went on to win 20 more doubles titles on the ITF Circuit, peaked at a career-high ranking of World No.55 in 2014, and retired from tennis after competing for the final time at the Upper Austria Ladies' Linz in the fall of 2016.

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