Eight elite WTA stars, several hot mics, a few stationary bikes and tons of good vibes. International Women’s Day was celebrated in style on Tuesday night at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden as a formidable octet gathered to battle for the Eisenhower Cup on Stadium 2.
And it was Amanda Anisimova, the lowest-ranked of the eight, who emerged as the champion in the Tiebreak Tens event, defeating Maria Sakkari 10-7 in the final.
The 43rd-ranked American joked that she was happy she didn’t have to spend too much time on the court to win the title.
“Personally I don’t like playing very long so this was perfect for me,” she quipped.
The 20-year-old pledged to donate a portion of her prize money to Ukrainian relief.
“I’ll definitely be donating some of my prize money to a Ukrainian relief fund,” she said. “Every day is extremely sad – we are here and enjoying, but it’s very hard.”
The American was the winner on the court, but charity is the champion off – all proceeds from ticket sales benefit local women’s organizations to honor International Women’s Day.
And the fans, who got to witness a dizzying rollout of their favorite stars, all left with smiles on their faces. As did the players.
Can't stop the Eisenhower Cup smiles 😁#IndianWells pic.twitter.com/spDNsVizdz
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) March 9, 2022
“It’s amazing to share this court with all these players,” said Paula Badosa of the $150,000 winner-take-all event. “All of them are champions, so it’s super fun.”
Defending champion Badosa was in fine form early – she blasted through her quarterfinal with Leylah Fernandez, closing the ten-point tiebreak with successive winners, one on the backhand side and the final flourish on the forehand.
Waiting courtside was Aryna Sabalenka, spinning on a stationary bike and bowing as Badosa approached.
The tennis was world-class, as were the laughs. Kudos to Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur who led the way in the comedy department. She took a crack as a spin instructor, and even grabbed a camera with a telephoto lens nearly as big as her arm. Suddenly there was Jabeur crouched on the court, searching for the perfectly angled photo.
Jabeur bowed out to a determined Sakkari, who couldn’t help but compete with her trademark grit (does she know any other way?) as she sailed past Jabeur and into the semis.
Sabalenka, who knocked out 2015 champion Simona Halep in her first match, eventually fell to Sakkari as well.
Halep didn’t manage a victory, but the Romanian was all smiles to be back at the scene of one of her early career milestones.
“It’s pretty special,” said Halep. “It’s emotional actually because at the beginning of my career, when I held this title, it was huge for me at that time. Hopefully I can have another good memory here.”
Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka was an early casualty as well, falling to Anisimova, who then catapulted past Badosa to reach the final.