A day of fun is never far away at the Western & Southern Open thanks to Kings Island, an amusement park featuring roller coasters that can be seen from Center Court. Check out what the players think of the spectacle right here on wtatennis.com!
David Kane
August 15, 2019

CINCINNATI, OH, USA - Two months after the WTA wraps up a fortnight at the French Open, the players can catch a glimpse of another Eiffel Tower across the Atlantic and across the street from - of all places - the Western & Southern Open. 

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Swirling the skyline from all vantage points of the Linder Family Tennis Center are the various rides and attractions that make up Kings Island, a popular Ohio amusement park open since 1972. 

Long intertwined with the tour's DNA - Kim Clijsters and Elena Dementieva put on an exhibition performance at the park back in 2009 -  it can be a highlight of the Cincinnati experience for players taking in one last warm-up tournament before the US Open.

"I go every single year," Madison Keys said after her second round match against two-time Grand Slam champion Garbiñe Muguruza. "This is my sixth time here and I’ve gone, maybe four times.

"It’s funny; every year, when I’m going in, I’m passing another player coming out, so it’s like this unspoken kind of thing."

As the players arrive each morning, it's as if tennis courts and carnival converge, a literal fork in the road between which they have to choose.

"I told my physio that the tennis center kind of pops out of nowhere, like feels like it pops up," recalled top seed Ashleigh Barty after knocking out fellow former former World No.1 Maria Sharapova. "He's, like, 'it's a massive size, how can it can just pop up?'

"But when we are driving in, he goes, 'Oh, it did just appear.' It's a little bit of a bizarre feeling, I suppose, because it's just we're here and you look over and there is roller coasters and things."

"When I played the doubles today, I saw the one that goes up and swirls you around from Court 10," laughed 2016 champion Karolina Pliskova, who has enjoyed a winning week with twin sister Kristyna.

No fan of the rides themselves, Russia's Ekaterina Alexandrova nonetheless admitted to an occasional pang of jealousy from the practice court.

"It’s kind of weird, because you see the whole thing, and so you can imagine people enjoying themselves, having a great time, but you’re stuck on the court!"

Her second round opponent, reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, was able to block out the nearby merriment to win a match that brought new - or familiar? - meaning to the word "rollercoaster."

Western & Southern Open, Cincinnati, Kings Island

"When I go on court, it's just the court. But it's nice atmosphere here, and you have things to do.

"I'm thinking these days to go to the park even if I'm not going on the roller coaster anymore. I have been once and that was enough."

Donna Vekic similarly felt like she'd outgrown that brand of amusement after knocking out Victoria Azarenka for the second time in three weeks - opting instead for a post-tournament scoop of Cincinnati's famed Graeter's ice cream.

"The last time I went was two years ago and I thought, ‘I’m too old for these things!’ Now I come to the club, do my job, and rest."

WTA Finals champion Elina Svitolina is an unapologetic fan of the frenzy, even using a trip to Kings Island as motivation back in 2015.

Elena Dementieva, Kim Clijsters, Western & Southern Open

"I was with my coach Iain Hughes at the time," she said after a straightforward win over Elise Mertens. "He hates roller coasters, but he told me that if I made the quarterfinals or semifinals, we’ll go. I ended up making the semifinal, but we had to straight to New Haven, so we never really went, so maybe one day I’ll go.

"I love roller coasters; the scarier the better. I love them, but when I’m on them, it’s like I hate them, but then I love it again."

While she'll happily spend a day at the park, Pliskova prefers to keep her feet on the ground.

"I would never go on one of these. It’s not because I’m scared but because I get sick every time I go! I’ll maybe do the shooting game or eat some sweets, but not anything dangerous!"

On a tour calendar full of unforgettable sights, the ever-present park makes for an atmosphere unlike any other.