This year's draw consisted of seasoned veterans and young players who show the promise of tomorrow. The Family Circle Cup has long been regarded as the birthplace of stars and this year was no exception. By mid-week, teenager Ashley Harkleroad had emerged as a young American set to make her move in pro tennis. As a wildcard she moved through the draw to the semifinals with ease, upsetting No. 11 seed Meghann Shaughnessy and No. 5 seed Daniela Hantuchova. Though she lost in the semifinals to No. 2 seed Justine Henin-Hardenne, Ashley recorded a number of career milestones that week. By beating Daniela she achieved her first-ever career victory over a Top 10 player and reached her first semifinal at a Tier 1 event.
On the other side of the draw, American Lindsay Davenport was making some news of her own. Lindsay, along with many of the other players, not only battled the competition on court during the week but also the weather. With damp and cold conditions during midweek, players needed to compete at the top of their game both physically and mentally. Having not played a clay court event in nearly three years, Lindsay rose to the challenge and pushed through to her first semifinal on clay since 1999 in Madrid.
However, her semifinal opponent Serena Williams was just as determined and as the No. 1 player in the world, she had just as much to prove. Appearing in her second Family Circle Cup, Serena knew that her game must be in top shape against such a tough competitor. Lindsay lost the first set 6-1 but came back to lead 5-4 in the second. There was more at stake for Serena who wanted to continue her undefeated season so as all champions do, she raised her game. In the end she won the match 6-1, 7-5 which moved her into the Family Circle Cup finals against Justine Henin-Hardenne.
This year's Family Circle Cup final was memorable in so many ways. With Serena's dominance in women's tennis and coming into the final with a 21-0 match-winning streak for the year, the final outcome was even more surprising. What makes women's tennis today so exciting is that on any given day, any player can rise to the occasion and Justine did just that. In just over an hour the young Belgian star snapped Serena's winning streak by winning the match 6-3, 6-4 and sent shock waves throughout the sports world that yes, Serena can be beaten. Her 6-3, 6-4 triumph over Serena earned Justine the prestigious title of Family Circle Cup champion. Over the past 31 years, only 13 women have won that coveted the title and with her dramatic victory this year Justine can now add her name to that prestigious list.
True to its past, the Family Circle Cup is an event filled with tradition where the depth in women's tennis always shines through. For so many players over the past 31 years, it is a tournament where dreams begin and often become a reality. The Family Circle Cup has and always will celebrate the past, present and future in women's tennis.