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Toronto : August 4 - 12, 2024
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Top 5 WTA moments at the National Bank Open in the 21st century

We’re getting nostalgic this week as the start of the National Bank Open is only a month away!

There are so many incredible memories from the tournament over the years (122 editions, but who’s counting!) that we’ve decided to narrow this reflection down to the best of the 21st Century.

1. Navratilova wins doubles in 2006 at nearly 50 years of age

One of the all-time greats of the sport, Martina Navratilova, turned back the clock in 2006 in Montreal and captured her sixth National Bank Open doubles title at the age of 49.

It was a remarkable 25 years after her first doubles title in Canada, which she claimed in 1981. Another astounding fact about Navratilova’s six NBO titles is that they all came with different partners, a testament to her incredible adaptability when it came to doubles.

Incredibly, three of her six titles at the tournament came after the age of 45.

2. Belinda Bencic’s Emergence 2015

It’s always memorable when a player has their “coming-out moment” at the National Bank Open. Such was the case in 2015 when Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic stormed her way to the title in Toronto.

Read also: Leylah enters Wimbledon in strong form

Ranked outside the Top 20 coming into the event, Bencic defeated established players such as Genie Bouchard, Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams and finally Simona Halep in the championship match.

Bencic leapt to No. 12 in the WTA rankings after the triumph and the following season would make her Top 10 debut. Since that time, she has continued to show her immense skill with a semifinalist appearance at the 2019 US Open, a gold medal in singles and a silver medal in doubles at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, along with seven other tour titles.

3. Bianca Andreescu’s Historic Win 2019

In 2019, Bianca Andreescu made a stunning rise towards the top levels of women’s tennis and the National Bank Open was a big part of that progress. She triumphed at her home tournament in Toronto, becoming the first Canuck to win the event since Faye Urban back in 1969.

Read also: Six Canadians Competing at Wimbledon

Just as she had done earlier in the year at Indian Wells, Andreescu persevered through several gruelling duels and required multiple three-set matches to will her way to the title.

She beat compatriot Genie Bouchard in a closely contested opening-round match before taking out the always-tricky Daria Kasatkina in round two. Fifth-seeded Kiki Bertens and third-seeded Karolina Pliskova were the next two victims, both falling in three sets.

Read also: Bianca Andreescu is Back and Ready to Rock

In the semis, Andreescu got a tidy two-set win over Sofia Kenin before facing one of her idols, Serena Williams, in the championship match. There Serena had to retire down 1-3 in the opening set due to a shoulder injury.

Andreescu not only thrilled the crowd with her tennis that week but handled the unforeseen conclusion against Serena with incredible poise and grace, leading the 23-time Slam champion to call her “an old soul.” They met again a few weeks later in the US Open final, won outright by the Canadian.

4. Gaby Dabrowski Wins 2021 Doubles Title

Yet another huge Canadian accomplishment at the National Bank Open was in 2021 when Ottawa’s Gabriela Dabrowski, arguably the greatest female doubles player Canada has ever had, captured the title in Montreal. As with Andreescu’s NBO title, Dabrowski was the first from her country to win the event since Faye Urban and Vicky Berner did so in 1969.

Read also: Erin Routliffe Rising to the Top

In her first-ever finals appearance at her home 1000 event, Dabrowski and partner Luisa Stefani won 6-3, 6-4 over Darija Jurak and Andreja Klepac.

The win was extra special for Dabrowski who had her parents in attendance that day after not seeing them in two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

5. Serena Williams last Hurrah

Three-time NBO titlist and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams made her final appearance on a tennis court in Canada at the 2022 tournament in Toronto.

The news of her impending retirement only came out after Williams had already won her opening-round match against Nuria Parrizas-Diaz in Vogue Magazine.

After her final match, a second-round loss to Bencic, a teary Serena bade farewell to her many Canadian fans, “It’s just been so memorable. Like I said in my article, I’m terrible at goodbyes. But goodbye Toronto.” She walked off court to a standing ovation worthy of a three-time champion here in our country.

Read more about Williams final appearance in Canada.

The WTA's best return to Toronto this summer for the National Bank Open August 4 to 12 at Sobeys Stadium. Tickets are on sale. Get your tickets today!

Feature Photo : Peter Power