For the first time since 2019, world-class women’s tennis returns to Toronto.
Local hope Bianca Andreescu’s summer of dreams included a run to the National Bank Open presented by Rogers title that summer, and Bibi — along with 19 of the top 20 female tennis players on the planet — are set to do battle at Sobeys Stadium.
Official action gets underway on Saturday (6 August) with the qualifying event. We’ve got your five things to watch for today thanks to our friends at 407 ETR.
1 // WORLD NO. 1 SWIATEK, CANADIAN FERNANDEZ HELP MAKE DRAW
Friday night at CN Tower, the top of tennis loomed over the city, with world No. 1 Iga Świątek of Poland and Canadian No. 1 Leylah Fernandez helping with the official draw ceremony.
Świątek is contesting her first hard court tournament since April and is riding a 19-match win streak on the surface. She’s set to face Shelby Rogers or Veronika Kudermatova in round two.
Fernandez, the 2021 US Open runner-up, is back on tour for the first time since being sidelined with a foot injury after the French Open. The 19-year-old will open her campaign against a qualifier.
“Doctor told me just yesterday that I have the green light to play,” Fernandez said at the draw. “My foot is 100 percent healed.”
2 // WILLIAMS SISTERS MAKE A HISTORIC RETURN TO TORONTO
Friday afternoon something special went down inside Sobeys Stadium as two icons sparred in a practice session.
That would be Venus Williams and sister Serena, combined winners of 30 singles majors – and 14 in doubles Grand Slams together.
The Williams sisters are both playing in Toronto for the first time since 2015. Serena will start against a qualifier Monday afternoon (8 Aug.) while Venus is set to meet Jil Teichmann Monday night.
Venus, at 42, made her return to singles this week against Canadian Rebecca Marino in a three-set loss in D.C. Serena, meanwhile, played for the first time in a year at Wimbledon earlier this summer.
3 // QUALIFYING KICKS OFF WITH EIGHT MAIN DRAW SPOTS AT STAKE
32 players are in action on Saturday as the qualifying event gets underway, with top seed Marie Bouzkova fresh off her first career title just a week ago in front of home fans in Prague.
Bouzkova has created Toronto magic before: In 2019 she was a surprise semi-finalist as a qualifier, felled only eventual runner-up Serena Williams in three sets.
Bouzkova meets Valentini Grammatikouplou of Greece.
The No. 2 seed in qualifying is Nuria Parrizas Diaz of Spain, while Liudmila Samsonova and American Madison Brengle round out the top four.
Other qualifying names to watch include Andrea Petkovic, Ajla Tomljanovic and Donna Vekic. Three Canadians feature, including 15-year-old Ontario local Victoria Mboko.
4 // 407 ETR FAMILY WEEKEND IS ONE FOR ALL AGES
You can’t go wrong with fun for the whole entire family. Qualifying matches and top stars practicing is just the start of it, with a mascot meet and greet, player Q&A and autograph sessions, an air guitar contest, face painting, airbrush tattoo station, obstacle course, mini tennis, wheelchair tennis, a balloon station and much, much more featuring Saturday and Sunday as part of the 407 ETR Family Weekend.
A yoga class (at 1:45pm) and Positive Court Pledge are part of Tennis Canada’s Mental Timeout mental health initiative, a game-changing wellness activation focusing on mental health in tennis.
Andreescu helped launch the campaign earlier this summer.
5 // A MAGICAL NINE DAYS OF TENNIS IS HERE!
Whether you’re a Bianca or Leylah super fan, can’t wait to see the Williams sisters, cherish watching the next up-and-coming stars at the practice courts or just here for a festive community feel – food, music, funa and more – the National Bank Open presented by Rogers is here. Women’s tennis returns for the first time in three years!
Come join us – find ticket information here. And – Ready? Play!