Caroline Wozniacki and the New Haven Open: A Retrospect

Earlier today, we announced that four-time Champion Caroline Wozniacki will return to play at the New Haven Open for the sixth straight year. The delightful Dane, who has amassed a staggering 20-1 record at the Connecticut Tennis Center, is not only known for her on-court prowess in New Haven, but also for her engagement in the local community – especially Yale.

It all started the day before Caroline won her first New Haven Open title, and second WTA title of her career, back in 2008. Just 18 years old at the time, she wanted to take a tour of the historic Yale campus, where many students around her age were currently studying.

“I almost wish I was going to Yale,” she quipped after exploring the gothic architecture of the buildings and hearing about the world class education those who attend the prestigious Ivy League institution receive. But it seemed as if she made the right decision in pursuing tennis, as Caroline returned to New Haven the very next year ranked in the world’s top 10.

In 2009, she, along with fellow top-10er Flavia Pennetta, invaded the historic Yale Bowl, where the football team plays its home games, to play tennis on the world’s largest grass court.

 

This is when the relationship blossomed between her and Yale football. After filming the activities in the Yale Bowl, the coach of the Yale football team asked Caroline to return to speak with the men of the Yale football team about life as an elite, professional athlete. Caroline enthusiastically accepted the opportunity. She talked about dealing with adversity by always moving forward and posed for a photo with the eager team. The very next year, in 2010, the entire football team poured onto the Stadium Court after one of Caroline’s wins to take a photo which has become an iconic image in Connecticut sports.

Wozniacki and Yale FB (2)

By 2011, Caroline had risen to No. 1 in the world and No. 1 in the hearts of fans. But the citizens of New Haven were not the only ones doting on her at that time. Rumors had been circulating all summer that Caroline had been romantically involved with the reigning U.S. Open (of golf) champion, Rory McIlroy.

Those rumors were confirmed after a match win on Stadium Court. The Yale football team again flooded the court for the photo op that had now become tradition, but a new face was in that crowd this time. McIlroy, donned in a Yale football jersey, surprised his girlfriend on court with a big smooch, much to the delight of the fans and the dismay of the group of potential suitors otherwise known as the young men of Yale football.

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In 2012, McIlroy once again accompanied Caroline to the New Haven Open, but wanted to get in on the action in New Haven for himself. Armed with a driver, the Northern Ireland native took to the Yale Bowl to test out his aim – using not a golf ball, but a tennis ball. As Caroline watched, cheered and jeered from the sidelines, McIlroy successfully hit the official tennis ball of the New Haven Open through one of the concourse tunnels inside the stadium.

 

Now that the “Queen of New Haven” is slated to be back again in August, fans can delight in knowing that one of the friendliest smiles in sports will once again bring the sunshine to New Haven.

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