The Family Circle Cup has been around for more than four decades, but it’s not slowing down anytime soon.
The 41st year of the event will not only satisfy tennis enthusiasts, but also includes family-friendly events, new themed nights and a street party.
“We’re about adding more value and entertainment for the consumer,” tournament director and general manager Bob Moran said.
Last year, 87,972 people enjoyed the largest women’s-only tennis tournament, and Moran said ticket sales are already 10 percent to 12 percent ahead of last year. Numbers were lower last year because one day was rained out.
The nine-day event will kick-off at 3 p.m. Saturday with the Drawing Ceremony on the Grand Lawn. Players will have their names drawn to find out who they will compete against and will pose for pictures.
Finals are scheduled for April 7.
The event coincides with Easter and the Cooper River Bridge Run this year, but Moran said they have turned what would seem to be a negative into a positive by working with the two. There will be an Easter egg hunt on Sunday on the Grand Lawn that’s free for kids under 12 and $10 for the rest of the family. It’s one of many events scheduled during Family Weekend.
And perhaps the most anticipated event, other than the matches, of course, is the Street Party Kick-Off to Semifinals, also dubbed the official Bridge Run after-party, on April 6.
If you’re running that day, you can park on Daniel Island and take a shuttle to the race’s starting line, then ride the shuttle back to continue the day at the Family Circle Cup. And don’t throw that bib away because VIP treatment will be given to those wearing runner’s bibs. If you’re not running that day, you still can head out to the island and take part in the fun.
Moran said the games will be more engaging and interactive this year, too.
He has three people on his team devoted to social media. You can follow them on Twitter @FamilyCircleCup and like Family Circle Cup on Facebook, and they will send game updates “as fresh as we can have it.” There also will be text-to-win contests on the video boards, mobile website and QR codes.
Moran said young athletes, such as 20-year-old Sloan Stevens, inspired them to branch out and host more activities outside of the games.
“For the first time in a long time, we have young Americans firing up in the ranks,” he said.
And, of course, the swarms of fans who attend the matches year after year are an inspiration. Since the event has been around for 41 years, Moran said they are now working will with their creative partners to make it an event children will want to continue to go to when they’re older.
“We know we have the true tennis fans. In order for an event to be successful, you’ve got to create an overall fan experience. If they know they can come out and have a good experience with their friends and their kids, we know we’ll do well,” he said.
What: Enjoy two fun-filled days of balloon artists, spring craft stations, face-painting, cookie decorating, magicians, jump castles and more interactive activities.
When: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday
Where: To be announced
Price: $10 for adults, free admission for kids 12 and under
What: Take part in an Easter egg hunt and make sure you stick around for a special visit from the Easter Bunny.
When: Noon Sunday
Where: Grand Lawn
Price: Part of Family Weekend; $10 for adults, free admission for kids 12 and under
What: A World Team Tennis-style exhibition featuring Venus Williams, Johanna Konta and eight local women styled in Venus’ 2013 Eleven clothing line.
When: 4:30-6 p.m. Monday
Where: Althea Gibson Court
What: Featuring drink specials, beverage tastings and live music, this will be the place to be. The live music lineup is as follows: Calvin Taylor on Tuesday, Blue Dogs Acoustic Trio on Wednesday, Travis Allison on April 4 and Permanent Vacation on April 5.
When: 4-8 p.m. Tuesday-April 5
Where: Racquet Club Bar on the Grand Lawn
What: In a joint effort between the Family Circle Cup and the Cooper River Bridge Run, join thousands of fellow runners and fans for an afternoon of live music, food, drinks and fun after the run. Live music will be provided by Soul Fish. And those still wearing their runner bibs will be given VIP treatment.
When: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. April 6
Where: Daniel Island
Price: $40 includes ticket to Family Circle Cup semifinals and entrance to Bridge Run After-party
What: Young American Sloane Stephens competes in her first singles match; two players from the University of South Carolina will take on a world-class professional doubles team.
When: 7-10 p.m. Tuesday
Price: $20 with a USC student ID.
What: In honor of their service, active duty military and their families will be given complementary admission.
When: 7-10 p.m. Wednesday
Price: Free for active-duty military and their family.
What: The stadium is looking to pink out. Attendees are encouraged to don their brightest pink in support of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Lowcountry Affiliate. For everyone wearing pink or who purchases the pink drink of the night, $1 will be donated to cancer research, community health outreach, advocacy and programs.
When: 7-10 p.m. April 4
What: SunTrust promises to pump up the energy, even when there is a break in the action.
When: 7-10 p.m. April 5