Preview: 2022 women's grass court season
• 3 MINUTE READ
Ahead of what promises to be an exciting grass court season, BBC and Amazon Prime broadcaster Karthi Gnanasegaram looks back at some of the biggest tournaments and champions in the history of women’s grass court tennis.
From Lottie Dod winning Wimbledon at the age of 15 in 1887 to 18-year-old Emma Raducanu's remarkable run to claim the US Open title in 2021, women's tennis has a rich tradition of showcasing teenage talent.
It continues to be the most high-profile sport in the world for women with the LTA having played an integral part in pioneering the women's game from the elegant history of Hurlingham hosting the first women only tennis tournament in Europe in 1971 to Eastbourne earning its reputation by becoming the first women's only event in the world on grass in 1974.
Now in 2022, the LTA's pre-Wimbledon summer grass court events are all back in their traditional weeks on the calendar, with the Rothesay Open Nottingham, taking place between June 4-12 2022, the Rothesay Classic Birmingham starts on June 11 2022 and the Rothesay International Eastbourne is from June 18 – 25 2022.
Recent champions in Nottingham include the recently retired World Number One, Ashleigh Barty winning, what was in 2018, only her second WTA Tour trophy. Her victory in the final over Johanna Konta demonstrated what perfect preparation these events are for the Grand Slam stage of Wimbledon. The British No.1 went on to win the Nottingham title herself in 2021, those present on that June day witnessing a little history, with Konta becoming the first British champion at a domestic WTA Tour event for 40 years, in what would also be the final trophy lift of the British player's career.
The strong summer schedule of tennis continues in Birmingham at the beautiful Edgbaston Priory Club complete with an honours list that boasts six Wimbledon singles champions. The tournament will be celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2022 and its a history well worth toasting given that the winner of the inaugural 1982 event was the great Billie Jean King. King, Martina Navratilova, Maria Sharapova, Angelique Kerber, Petra Kvitova and Ash Barty all have their names inscribed on both the Birmingham trophy and Wimbledon's Venus Rosewater Dish. Last year's Birmingham champion, Ons Jabeur, brought her own history to the venue becoming the first Arab woman ever to win a WTA Tour title.
The field for Eastbourne is always packed with the elite of women's tennis making the most of their final chance to compete on the grass before The Championships while also taking in the stress busting backdrop of being on the Sussex seafront. No-one is more aware of it being the perfect precursor for Wimbledon than Martina Navratilova who won the Eastbourne title an astonishing 11 times. Entries have been just as exciting in recent years with Serena and Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova amongst those to revel in the relaxed atmosphere of the delightful Devonshire Park Lawn Tennis Club, the perfect respite ahead of a fortnight in England's capital city.
Last year the south coast saw the start of the resurgence of the former French Open champion, Jelena Ostapenko. The Latvian player won the Eastbourne title for the first time and is now back inside the world's top 15 once again.
Nottingham, Birmingham and Eastbourne are a trio of tournaments well worth taking a trip to this summer as the competitions that are the cornerstones of the British grass court season make a welcome return in all their glory.