One of the pleasures of the Family Circle Cup this year is the presence of Bud Collins, the veteran tennis writer and broadcaster known for his colorful choices in pants.
Few know these players better than Collins, and his on-court interviews after Stadium Court matches cover much more than forehands and backhands.
After defending champion Jelena Jankovic got by qualifier Alexandra Stevenson, 7-5, 6-0, on Wednesday, Collins introduced Jankovic's mother, Snezana, to the crowd and got the 23-year-old from Serbia to tell the story of how her mother talked her out of quitting tennis.
Jankovic fell ill early in 2006, and was so down that she pondered giving up tennis for the life of "a normal, regular girl."
"My mom was there, and my parents in general, were very supportive when I was negative in those times," Jankovic said in the press room after her match. "I never looked at the positive side, and she always taught me to be strong and things will always somehow happen for me. She believed in me and she helped me stay in there, and then here I am."
Snezana and her husband, Veselin, both are economists, and Snezana was in the front row of the players' box for Wednesday's match.
"I love having her around," Jankovic said. "She's been with me through the good and the bad times, and I appreciate everything that she has done for me, because I think without her I wouldn't be where I am now."
A ceremony set for Saturday will dedicate the umpire chair at Stadium Court in honor of Lee Jackson, who died in December at the age of 83.
Jackson's name may not be familiar to tennis fans, but the players on the WTA Tour revered her as "Mama Lee." Jackson worked for the Tour, as a referee, umpire and player liaison, for almost 30 years.
"If the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour was a sorority, then Lucille 'Lee' Jackson was our house mother," Chris Evert wrote. "... From the eras of Billie Jean King to the Williams sisters (Venus and Serena), Lee transcended those roles and became something much more precious."
Evert said Jackson made chicken soup for the players, played Scrabble with them and listened to their problems.
"She meant the world to us," Evert wrote.
The plaque on the umpire chair will read, in part, "Referee, umpire, friend and colleague, her impact on women's tennis, the WTA Tour and the lives of everyone she touched will be felt forever."
Off the court
--Moms and daughters (8 years old and up) are invited to the Family Circle/Wilhelmina Model Mother-Daughter Search from 5-7 p.m. Friday at the hospitality tent. Get free gifts and enter to win a "fabulous prize package."
--Saturday promises to be a special day as former Family Circle Cup winners such as Evert, Martina Navratilova, Rosie Casals, Conchita Martinez, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Mary Pierce, Jennifer Capriati and Iva Majoli will be at Stadium Court for a Parade of Champions.
--ESPN2's coverage of the Family Circle Cup begins today, from 1-2:30 p.m. Friday's time slot is the same, with the semifinal coverage set for 1-3 p.m. Saturday and the finals for 1-3 p.m. Sunday.
Attendance for Wednesday's early session was 7,117, while the evening session drew 7,587. The total attendance for the tournament thus far is 41,465.