The dream of an international tennis tournament in Miami began in the 1960s, when top tennis players such as Jack Kramer, Frank Sedgman, Pancho Gonzalez, Pancho Segura and Butch Buchholz toured the country in a station wagon, playing tennis in darkened arenas and fairgrounds. It was before the days of Open tennis, and they traveled with a portable canvas court and plenty of hopes. Buchholz - an original member of the "Handsome Eight" (the first recognized pros of Lamar Hunt's World Championship Tennis Circuit introduced in 1968) - competed until he was forced to retire from tennis in 1970 with chronic tennis elbow.
In 1980, when Buchholz was executive director of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) - the player's union - he met a vice president of the Thomas J. Lipton Company who liked his idea of creating a two-week players tournament. A sponsorship agreement would eventually be reached for $1.5 million a year for five years and Lipton would own the title.
The "Winter Wimbledon," as it was first dubbed, would be the first major tournament of the year (the Australian Open was then held in December). It was decided that the first tournament would be held at Laver's International Tennis Resort in Delray Beach, 50 miles north of Miami.
Buchholz was thinking first class all the way and brought in Alan Mills, tournament referee at Wimbledon, as head referee, and Ted Tinling, a well-known tennis fashion designer since the 1920s, as director of protocol.
He then approached the ATP and Women's International Tennis Association and offered prize money, a percentage of the ticket sales and worldwide television rights. In return he wanted the rights to run the tournament for 15 years. The associations agreed, but Buchholz remembers that he had his detractors in the beginning.
"The tours and some of the top players were skeptical," Buchholz said. "Even [tennis writer/TV analyst] Bud Collins said at the time we didn't need another combined event. At one point, I was sure if we didn't have a signed contract the tour would have altered this event and we would not have the same event we have today."
On Feb. 4, 1985, following 20 years of nurturing a dream to create a world-class tennis tournament, the first ball was struck at the International Players Championships and a new tradition in tennis began. Manuela Maleeva won the first point en route to a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Angeliki Kanellopula.
The first tournament turned out 84 of the top 100 men and 97 of the top 100 women. ESPN telecast the first weekend and the men's semifinals, and ABC telecast the finals live. Networks from Australia, England, France, Italy, Japan, Sweden and West Germany also were present.
The first champions were Tim Mayotte and Martina Navratilova. The women's final between Navratilova and Chris Evert was a sellout. Only Wimbledon and the U.S. Open exceeded the $1.8 million in prize money. But Laver's was in financial trouble, so Buchholz moved the 1986 tournament to Boca West, an Arvida property in Boca Raton. This tournament hosted 43 of the top 50 men and 46 of the top 50 women. A tradition of excellent tennis had been established. But then Arvida sold Boca West, and Buchholz was again searching for a home for his event. It was after that successful second year that then-Dade County Manager and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Executive Director Merrett Stierheim helped pave the way for a move to Miami.
Stierheim showed Buchholz locations at Flamingo Park, Tropical Park and Amelia Earhart Park, before Buchholz crossed the Rickenbacker Causeway and fell in love with the property that would become the Tennis Center at Crandon Park, a Miami-Dade County Park that borders Key Biscayne.
"You go over that bridge, and it's like leaving a city and entering tropical paradise," Buchholz said. "It had that postcard feeling I was hoping for, and then I saw those 5,000 parking spots [by the beach], and I thought, 'This is it.' "
The rest, as they say, is history.
First, a $1 million, 10,000 square-foot clubhouse was built at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park in 1989 with plans for a permanent stadium to follow. But there were obstacles. After a favorable court ruling involving the use of the land in July, 1992 cleared the way to begin construction, the bulldozers started humming in hopes of getting the stadium ready for the 1993 tournament.
However, Hurricane Andrew and then the Storm of the Century had other ideas.
"I want you to know we've got nine lives," Buchholz said back then. "By this time next year the stadium will be up. I don't have any lives left."
On Feb. 13, 1994, as the tournament was celebrating its 10th event, Miami-Dade County dedicated the $20 million permanent stadium to the citizens of Miami-Dade County. The stadium also served as home to the USTA Player Development Program. Less than a month later, on March 11, 1994, Karin Kschwendt defeated Kathy Rinaldi-Stunkel, 6-3, 6-4 in the first match on Stadium Court.
"When we got the stadium built, and players like Steffi Graf, Pete Sampras, Gabriela Sabatini, Jim Courier and Andre Agassi started saying it was one of the best center courts in the world, it changed the players' minds, and the minds of the tours." Buchholz said, "They got behind us and we went on from there. We went from being a public wart to the tours feeling they should have more events like this one."
Now a two-week event annually showcasing one of the deepest fields of the year, the Sony Ericsson Open has reached the next echelon in presenting an international sports extravaganza. With $9.0 million in prize money, equally distributed to the men and women, and all of the top players and media from all corners of the world covering the action every day, the Sony Ericsson Open has earned its place in the world as the fifth largest tennis tournament, surpassed only by the Grand Slams.
In 2010, the tournament was televised in the United States on CBS, Fox Sports Net and Tennis Channel, and recorded over 2400 hours of television coverage worldwide.
A year-by-year review:
1983: Buchholz announces at the French Open that plans are proceeding for a major two-week event for men and women players.
1984: Dates and site are set for the first International Players Championships. Prize money: $1.8 million. Tournament to be held in Delray Beach, Florida. Title sponsor: Thomas J. Lipton Company. Initial partners are the two players' organizations, Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women's International Tennis Association (WITA).
1985: Field at Laver's International Tennis Resort includes 128 men and women in singles, 64 doubles teams for men and women, and mixed doubles. Tournament format is the same as the four Grand Slams. It is the first time in 56 years that a new, two-week tournament is launched. Martina Navratilova and Tim Mayotte capture singles titles before ABC-TV cameras. Navratilova-Evert women's final is first sellout. Attendance for two weeks: 125,817, exceeding any golf or tennis event ever held in Florida.
1986: Site is Boca West Resort and Club in Boca Raton, Florida. Ivan Lendl defeats Mats Wilander for men's title, while Evert captures women's title vs. newcomer Steffi Graf. Attendance reaches 193,046, an increase of 65%.
1987: Search ends for a permanent home as the tournament arrives in Miami. Metro-Dade County Commissioners plan to build a stadium at Crandon Park. Graf defeats Evert for women's title, while Miloslav Mecir upsets Lendl in men's final. Television reaches 31 nations.
1988: En route to No. 1 world ranking later that year, Mats Wilander defeats Jimmy Connors. Graf becomes first woman to win two of the tournament's titles, beating Gabriela Sabatini.
1989: A new $1 million clubhouse is dedicated by Metro Dade March 12. Ivan Lendl wins his second tournament and is first man with two titles. Part-time Key Biscayne-resident Gabriela Sabatini is women's winner. Attendance reaches record 226,653.
1990: New 10-day format with 96 men and 96 women in singles, features two weekends of play. Only event in pro tennis with this unique format. Andre Agassi, 19, and Monica Seles, just 16, become the youngest of the tournament's champions. On Nov. 6, Metro Dade Commissioners approve new contract for permanent stadium in Miami.
1991: Ground passes sold for first time with record crowds at 15 of 18 sessions. All-time attendance mark of 15,107 for the day session on March 17. Seles joins Graf as two-time women's winner. Jim Courier climbs into top 10 for the first time by defeating unseeded David Wheaton in the final. In October, USTA announces Tennis Center at Crandon Park will be home for its new National Junior Player Development Center. U.S. teams to train here. In November, construction contract for new stadium is awarded to James A. Cummings, Inc. of Fort Lauderdale.
1992: The men's and women's final sell out in February - earliest pre-tournament sellout. The Initial USTA training camp is held at Crandon Park, campers include nine-year old Andy Roddick. During the event, Thomas J. Lipton Company announces it will extend title sponsorship. Michael Chang becomes third straight U.S. winner, while Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario upsets Seles to win the title. Record attendance for 10 days reaches 204,643, with an average of more than 20,000 per day. In April, construction begins on permanent stadium. The construction is halted in mid-May by court order. By late summer, Appeal Court says stadium construction can go on. On Aug. 24, 1992, Miami is slammed by Hurricane Andrew, which causes $16 billion in damage to South Florida. In October, the tournament is renamed the Lipton Championships. On Nov. 24, it is announced that construction will resume Dec. 1 but stop for the 1993 event.
1993: The ninth tournament survives worst weather in history, which includes The Storm of the Century. Four sessions are cancelled as the storm wreaks havoc on the site. Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and Pete Sampras emerge as winners. Sampras is fourth straight U.S. man to win title and two weeks later ascends to No. 1 in the world for the first time. Sanchez-Vicario becomes third woman with two titles by upsetting Graf. TV goes to 66 nations.
1994: On Feb. 13, Miami-Dade County dedicates new permanent 14,000-seat stadium to citizens of Dade County. On March 11, the stadium is christened with a match between Karin Kschwendt and Kathy Rinaldi-Stunkel. On March 20, during a third round match between Andre Agassi and Boris Becker, Becker creates a stir among the fans when he hands his racquet to a ballgirl, Stephanie Flagherty. She won the point but Agassi eventually defeats Becker, 6-2, 7-5.
1995: Steffi Graf wins second consecutive title for the second time. She becomes the tournament's winningest player and the first player to win four titles: 1987, 1988, 1994, and 1995. On Sept. 7, the tournament announces it will be played over 11 days, the only 11-day event on the ATP Tour and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. On Dec. 6, the tournament announces that men's final will go back to best-of-five sets.
1996: Steffi Graf breaks her own record by taking a third consecutive title and fifth overall singles championship when she defeats Chanda Rubin, 6-1, 6-3, in the women's final. She also won a doubles championship in 1988 with Gabriela Sabatini. The tournament breaks all attendance records with a total of 234,755 spectators attending the tournament. 15,501 fans pass through the gates the first Sunday day session (March 24), breaking the all-time single session record. A record six sessions were sold out. In December, the Tennis Center in Crandon Park is awarded top honors in two design excellence award competitions. The awards were issued by the U.S. Tennis Court and Track Builders Association for Outstanding Tennis Court and/or Tennis Facility and Athletic Business Magazine for Facility of Merit in the 1996 Architectural Showcase.
1997: The tournament hosts the first men's and women's pro tennis awards benefit at the Jackie Gleason Theater on Miami Beach. Tennis stars Pete Sampras, Carlos Moya, Jim Courier, Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova were on hand and joined by national and local celebrities for a star-studded evening featuring comedian Dennis Miller as the emcee. More than $100,000 was raised and distributed to the Ashe-Buchholz Tennis Center in Moore Park and the Community Partnership for Homeless. On March 22, the tournament formally dedicates the men's locker room to Tim Gullikson with an on-court presentation that includes Butch Buchholz, Pete Sampras, Rosemary Gullikson, and Tim and Rosemary's children, Megan and Erik Gullikson. On March 30, top seed Martina Hingis defeats two-time women's champion and former world ranked No.1 Monica Seles, 6-2, 6-1, in 43 minutes. Hingis became the top-ranked player on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour following her championship run. On March 31, Thomas Muster defeats Sergi Bruguera 7-6(6), 6-3, 6-1 to win the tournament, eight years after defaulting to Ivan Lendl in 1989 when he was injured in a car accident the night before the final.
1998: On January 5, the tournament sells a record number of tickets the first day individual tickets go on sale for the 1998 tournament - a 40 percent increase over the previous single day sales record set on opening day 1997. On March 20, Butch Buchholz organizes a reunion of the WCT's "Handsome Eight" in an on-court ceremony at the tournament to honor the 30-year anniversary of Open tennis. On March 26, Steve Campbell becomes the first qualifier ever to reach the quarterfinals of the tournament. On March 28, 23rd-seeded Anna Kournikova becomes the first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour player to defeat four Top 10 players in one event, setting down No. 5 Monica Seles, No. 9 Conchita Martinez, No. 2 Lindsay Davenport, and No. 8 Aranxta Sanchez Vicario before losing to No. 11 Venus Williams in a three-set final. On March 29, Marcelo Rios becomes the first Latin American male to reach No. 1 on the ATP after defeating Andre Agassi in the final. In August, Butch Buchholz announces that Ericsson will acquire the title sponsorship of the tournament beginning in 2000. In October, the tournament announces that the men's and women's finals will be broadcast on Fox with the men's final played on Saturday, and the women's on Sunday - the first time the final days have ever been played that way.
1999: On Feb. 12, the tournament announces its best field in history with 48 of the top 50 women and 47 of the top 50 men competing. On March 28, Venus and Serena Williams appear in the first all-sister final since 1884 when Maud and Lillian Watson met at the Wimbledon final. Venus won 6-1, 4-6, 6-4. In June, Butch Buchholz announces that his family will sell the tournament to IMG.
2000: On March 24, at the first Ericsson Open, little known 17-year-old Andy Roddick secures his first ATP victory, 6-4, 6-0 over Fernando Vincente. Roddick loses to Andre Agassi, 6-2, 6-3, in the second round. On April 2, Pete Sampras wins his third singles title by defeating Brazil's Gustavo "Guga" Kuerten in a four-set epic in front of a boisterous, partisan crowd. Following his win, Sampras said "I can definitely walk out of this tournament feeling real confident and real good about the way things went. The crowd was huge today. I got chills up my spine a number of times." Sampras would win only two more tournaments in his career: 2000 Wimbledon and the 2002 US Open. On August 30, the tournament announces it will add a 12th day to its schedule in order to give players more time between matches.
2001: On March 31, Venus Williams defeats Jennifer Capriati in a thrilling three-set final, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (4), to win her third title in four years. Tennis Magazine would name it the Best Women's Match of 2001. On April 1, Andre Agassi defeats Jan-Michael Gambill 7-6 (7), 6-1, 6-0 in the final, to win his fourth title in Miami, the most of any male.
2002: On Feb. 5, the tournament teams with NASDAQ-100 (QQQ), an index of 100 of the largest non-financial U.S. and non-U.S. companies listed on the National Market tier of the NASDAQ Stock Market. Butch Buchholz opens the NASDAQ Market for trading with help from tennis legends Martina Navratilova and Rod Laver. On March 19, Cliff Buchholz's retirement as tournament director after 18 years is officially recognized as Butch Buchholz dedicates the Stadium Player Center in his honor. On March 25, Pete Sampras makes what would become his final appearance losing in the third round to Fernando Gonzalez of Chile. He wins the US Open later in the year and announces his retirement in 2003. Sampras was a three-time champion and was 42-10 in 14 years. On March 28, perhaps the most exciting day and night of tennis in tournament history, Serena Williams defeats Venus Williams in the day session in straight sets to advance to her first final. Both night session matches go to third-set tie breaks as No. 1 seed Lleyton Hewitt defeats Marat Safin and Jennifer Capriati downs Monica Seles. Capriati sealed match point at 12:20 a.m. on March 29, her 26th birthday. On March 31, Andre Agassi wins his fifth title with a four-set victory over Roger Federer, tying his wife Steffi Graf for the most titles in tournament history. On June 4, the tournament announces that Executive Vice President Adam Barrett succeeds Cliff Buchholz as tournament director. On Aug. 22, Serena Williams opens the NASDAQ Market for trading at 9:30 a.m. at NASDAQ MarketSite. She goes on to win the US Open.
2003: On Feb. 18, Mary Joe Fernandez is named the official tournament ambassador. The Miami native participated in 11 tournaments in her hometown and continues to be heavily involved in the tennis community as a commentator for ESPN and CBS. On March 22, another chapter in tournament history closes when Michael Chang walks off the court after losing in the second round to Andre Agassi. Chang, the 1992 tournament champion, retired at the end of the 2003 season. On March 30, Andre Agassi wins his third consecutive and sixth title over Carlos Moya (6-3, 6-3). The win propels Agassi past his wife, Steffi Graf, in total titles. The entire match is shown live on the NASDAQ MarketSite screen on Broadway in Times Square in New York City. On Aug. 20, Andy Roddick and Butch Buchholz are welcomed to the Market Open of the NASDAQ prior to the US Open. Two weeks later Roddick would win his first Grand Slam
title and finish No. 1 for the year.
2004: On March 26, Serena Williams returns to the court for the first time since winning Wimbledon the previous July with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Marta Marrero. Williams, sporting her new Nike gear, would roll to her third consecutive title. March 27, the Tennis Channel broadcast over 12 hours of live match coverage from the first Saturday of the event. On April 2-4, the men's and women's finals were both telecast live on CBS, while the men's semifinals were both live on ESPN2. This was the first time since 1992 that both finals were televised live on network TV in the United States. On April 4, Andy Roddick, truly a hometown hero, is crowned champion. Roddick defeats Guillermo Coria, 6-7, 6-3, 6-1, 0-0 after Coria retired due to back spasms at 0-40 during the first game of the fourth set.
2005: The tournament sets session attendance records in five different sessions, including a 2005 best of 17,180 on Good Friday. The total attendance of 263,118 marked a gain of over 9,000 from 2004. On April 2, Kim Clijsters became the first unseeded women's player to win the title, winning seven matches while dropping only an astounding 27 games en route to the championship. She defeated No. 5 seed Anastasia Myskina in the Round of 16, No. 4 seed Elena Dementieva in the quarterfinals, top seed Amelie Mauresmo in the semifinals and No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova, 6-3, 7-5 in the final. The next day, Roger Federer avenged his 2004 loss to Rafael Nadal in dramatic fashion. He spotted the young Spaniard two sets and a break before prevailing 2-6, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-1 to take the championship in three hours, 42 minutes in what most were calling the best final in the history of the event. On August 25, 2005 Champion Roger Federer and Butch Buchholz open the NASDAQ Market prior to the US Open. Roger Federer goes on to win the 2005 US Open.
2006: An amazing year for the tournament begins with the announcement of the return to equal prize money ($533,500 - winners check - first time equal since 1989) for the men and women. Electronic line calling debuts for both the ATP and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, as the Hawkeye system is introduced at the 2006 event on the Stadium court and later also utilized in the United States at the US Open Series events and at the US Open. The first match to use the system had Jamea Jackson playing Ashley Harkleroad. Jackson defeated Ashley Harkleroad 7-5, 6-7, 7-5 in over three hours with Jackson being the first to throw out the challenge. It came 57 minutes into the match and it was not successful. In all, the players challenged 161 calls, overruling only 53. The tournament also smashed it's total attendance record – 272,033, breaking old record of 270,143 in 2001. The event featured five sellouts, including men's final. Two important improvements to the stadium were introduced, chairback seats on the 400 level, and video boards which enabled the stadium spectators to see the replay results. On March 30, Svetlana Kuznetsova helped NASDAQ open the market from the stadium court, the first time the market had ever been opened for trading from a sporting event. Kuznetsova went on to win the women's title the next day, defeating Maria Sharapova. Roger Federer capped off his second straight title on April 2, defeating Ivan Ljubicic in three tiebreak sets. On August 29, Butch Buchholz and Dee Dutta announced that Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications, a 50:50 joint venture between Sony Corporation and Ericsson, would replace NASDAQ-100 as title sponsor effective for the 2007 event in a multi-year deal. NASDAQ would remain a sponsor of the Sony Ericsson Open in 2007.
2007: In its first year as title sponsor Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications wanted to change the way tennis was presented, and the 2007 Sony Ericsson Open was truly a complete entertainment experience for both fans and players alike. The tournament hosted a star-studded Kickoff Party on South Beach featuring a live musical performance by Robin Thicke, an unprecedented five fashion shows by world renowned designers Roberto Cavalli, Diane von Furstenberg, Etro and the upscale local Village of Merrick Park, a celebrity chef demonstration by Norman Van Aken and Katy Sparks and welcomed several on-court celebrity performances by Jose Feliciano, JoJo, Melissa Jimenez, Boyd Tinsley, Jon Secada and Kelly Rowland. The tournament posted record numbers in 2007 setting an all-time attendance record with 288,025 guests visiting the Tennis Center at Crandon Park shattering the old attendance mark of 272,033 set in 2006 by nearly 16,000. Ten session attendance records were set during the tournament's 12 days including seven session sellouts. The March 24 Saturday Day Session set an all-time attendance record with 18,910. It marked the first time that a session surpassed 18,000. The women's final saw eight-time Grand Slam Champion Serena Williams record one of the greatest comebacks in tournament history with a 0-6, 7-5, 6-3 win over World No. 1 Justine Henin. The men's final offered tennis fans a glimpse of the future as 19-year-old Novak Djokovic captured his first Sony Ericsson Open title with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win over Guillermo Canas. Djokovic did not drop a set en route to the title and becomes the lowest seed (No. 10) to win the Sony Ericsson Open title since Jim Courier (No. 13) in 1991. Canas becomes the first qualifier to reach the tournament final.
2008: 2008 marked another record breaking year for the Sony Ericsson Open. The tournament recorded 10 session sellouts, set 11 session attendance records and shattered its all-time attendance record with 297,011 guests visiting the Tennis Center at Crandon Park. The men's final on Sunday, April 6 was sold out on Friday, March 28 marking the quickest sellout for a men's final in tournament history. But the record attendance was only part of the story. In its second year as title sponsor of the Sony Ericsson Open, Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications continued to raise the bar when it comes to presenting tennis to the world, and the 2008 tournament was truly a complete entertainment experience for both fans and players alike. Everywhere people turned they were met with the sights and sounds of glitz and glamour. The names of those visiting the tournament was like a who's who of the entertainment and sports industries including actors Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Brittany Murphy, and Pauly Shore; television host Star Jones-Reynolds; feature film director David Frankel; musicians Paulina Rubio, Alejandro Sanz, Jon McLaughlin, Kenny G, Common and Boyd Tinsley; race car drivers Helio Castroneves, Christian Fittipaldi and Emerson Fittipaldi; Miami Heat stars Dwyane Wade and Shawn Marion; former NBA All-Star Alonzo Mourning; NFL standouts Terrell Owens, Randy McMichael, Chris Chambers and Willis McGahee; and Florida Panthers Richard Zedinik and Brano Nezei. The Sony Ericsson Open hosted a star-studded Kickoff Party at the trendy club Opium Garden on world famous South Beach. The red carpet event featured world renowned DJ Bob Sinclar and drew many celebrity guests including 10,000 BC star Camilla Bell, reality TV star Katrina Campins, former professional tennis player Anna Kournikova, supermodel and the face of Estée Lauder Hilary Rhoda, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit models Quianna Grant, Jessica Gomes, Nicole Trunfio and Jarah Mariano, and the band Misshapes. At the Sony Ericsson Open Fashion Park, the tournament hosted four fashion shows by world renowned designers Fila, EleVen by Venus Williams, Blumarine and the upscale local Village of Merrick Park. Great tennis was not the only thing entertaining fans on Stadium Court. The Sony Ericsson Open brought in Island Def Jam recording artist Jon McLaughlin to perform his new single "Smack into You" and the National Anthem prior to the women's final. Prior to the men's final the tournament hosted Kenny G who performed "Sabor A Mi" from his new album Rhythm and Romance as well as the National Anthem. Both the men's and women's finals were broadcast on CBS. The tournament received over 2000 hours of television coverage globally on other networks. For the first time the Sony Ericsson Open took to the streets of Miami to bring tennis to people who may not normally visit the event on Key Biscayne. The tournament hosted events at Coconut Grove and Lincoln Road featuring video boards, player appearances and interactive games. The Sony Ericsson Open also took the tournament to many of the local high schools in South Florida with several high school dance team performances and National Anthem singers prior to select evening matches on Stadium Court.
2009: 2009 marked the 25th edition of the Sony Ericsson Open and the event recorded another banner year. The tournament recorded eight session sellouts, set four session records and boasted a total attendance of 293,228 marking the second-highest total in tournament history. The men’s final on Sunday, April 5 was sold out by Saturday, March 21 marking the quickest sellout for a men’s final in tournament history. The Sony Ericsson Open once again hosted a star-studded Kickoff Party at LIV located at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. The red carpet event featured a live performance by Wyclef Jean and drew many celebrity guests including Eliza Dushku, Nicky Hilton, Jim Belushi, Rick Fox, Boris Kodjoe, Romero Britto, Ana Christina, Santigold, Chad Johnson, Meagan Good, Jessica Gomes, Elyse Taylor. On site, the tournament created a new entertainment stage which provided daily entertainment for fans including player Q&A’s, fashion shows, and live musical performances. The Sony Ericsson Open has become one of the most glamorous events on tour and the names of those visiting the tournament this year was like a who’s who of the entertainment and sports industries including actors Owen Wilson, Eliza Dushku, Meagan Good, Adrien Brody, and Boris Kodjoe; television personalities Star Jones and Al Reynolds; musical artists Common, Chayanne, Sandy “Pepa” Denton, Gloria Estefan, Enrique Iglesias, William “WAK” King, Kelly Rowland, Paulina Rubio, Alejandro Sanz, and Shakira; Washington DC Mayor Adrian Fenty; sports stars Vernon Carey, Cris Carter, Rick Fox, Thomas Jones, Anna Kournikova, Curtis Martin, Bryant McKinnie, Ed Reed, Tony Gonzalez, Randy Shannon, Kimbo Slice, and Dara Torres; 2003 Miss Universe Amelia Vega and Vogue Editor Anna Wintour. For the second consecutive year the Sony Ericsson Open took to the streets of Miami to bring tennis to people. The tournament hosted events at Coconut Grove (March 26), Mary Brickell Village (March 27) and the University of Miami (March 29) featuring video boards, player appearances and interactive games.
2010: 2010 marked a record year for the Sony Ericsson Open. The tournament recorded 11 session sellouts, set eight session records and surpassed 300,000 in attendance for the first time in tournament history. A record total of 312,386 visited the Crandon Park Tennis Center including a sellout crowd of 14,119 for the men’s final on Sunday, April 4. The men’s final sold out on March 8 marking the quickest sellout for a men’s final in tournament history. Vacation packages were also a hot commodity. The tournament sold out of its 365 packages marking a 24 percent increase over last year. Overall the tournament booked over 13,000 room nights. On site the Sony Ericsson Open saw retail sales increase by more than 26 percent and food and beverage sales increase by more than nine percent. Prior to the tournament Butch Buchholz, the event founder and Chairman, decided to step down as chairman after 25 years to spend more time with his family and pursue other entrepreneurial opportunities. To honor his vision and his dedication to the event, the Sony Ericsson Open decided to name the winner’s trophy after him. From this year moving forward the trophy will be called the “Butch Buchholz Championship Trophy.” The Sony Ericsson Open once again hosted a star-studded Kickoff Party at LIV located at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. The red carpet event featured a live performance by N.E.R.D. and drew many celebrity guests including Mel B, Jay Sean, Katrina Campins, Kelly Bensimon, Simon Rex, Pharrell Williams, Al Reynolds, Jennifer Williams, Robert Jones, Jonathan Vilma and Bryant McKinney. The 2010 Sony Ericsson Open was definitely the place to be seen in Miami. Celebrities visiting the tournament included reality stars Kim Kardashian and Kris Jenner; musical artists Jimmy Buffett, Mel B, Jay Sean, Kelly Roland and Chayanne; Vogue editor Anna Wintour; Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves; golf legend Jack Nicklaus; tennis legends Boris Becker, Monica Seles and Gabriela Sabatini; NBA legend Isaiah Thomas; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and NFL stars Bryant McKinney, Terrell Owens, Willis McGahee, and Jonathan Vilma. The event also continued its commitment to bringing the best in on-court entertainment to its guests. Prior to the women’s final fans were treated to a special National Anthem performance by Nicole Henry, a University of Miami alum, who has toured 13 countries and released three international Top 10-selling jazz CDs. Prior to the men’s final the tournament welcomed Grammy-award winning trumpet player Arturo Sandoval. The legendary Sandoval is a tenured professor at Florida International University and has been awarded five Grammy Awards, six Billboard Awards and an Emmy Award. The latter for his composing work on the entire underscore of the HBO movie based on his life, “For Love of Country” staring Andy Garcia. Both the men’s and women’s finals were broadcast on CBS. The tournament received a record 63 hours of domestic television coverage and recorded over 2400 hours of television coverage globally on other networks. The tournament also hosted Champions for Chile on Saturday, April 3 to raise money for Chilean Disaster Relief. The event featured Fernando Gonzalez, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier and Gustavo Kuerten competing in a fun filled double match. The event, which was spearheaded by Gonzalez and Roddick, raised over $125,000 for Hogar de Cristo Chilean Earthquake relief.
2011: 2011 marked yet another record year for the Sony Ericsson Open. The tournament reinvested more than $1.5 million back into the event to make it more glamorous, fan friendly and socially connected than ever before and the results speak for themselves. A record total of 316,267 guests visited the Tennis Center at Crandon Park including a men’s finals record of 14,625 on Sunday, April 3. This marks the fourth time in the last five years that the Sony Ericsson Open has broken its all-time attendance record. This year the tournament set five new session attendance marks and sold out nine sessions. On Saturday, March 26 the Sony Ericsson Open established a single day attendance record of 33,203 breaking the old record of 32,916 in 2007. The Sony Ericsson Open is truly and international event with visitors coming from all over the world, and vacation packages were once again a hot commodity. For the second year in a row the tournament sold out of its 348 packages. Overall more than 14,000 room nights were booked directly through the tournament. On site the Sony Ericsson Open saw retail sales increase by more than 65 percent. But the record attendance and sales numbers were just one of many storylines this year. On Wednesday, March 23 Sony Ericsson announced that it renewed its title sponsorship through 2014. In its first five years as title sponsor Sony Ericsson has raised the bar when it comes to promoting tennis to the world through innovation and entertainment. This year Sony Ericsson ventured into the world of social media making the Sony Ericsson Open the first fully integrated foursquare event. Several check-in locations were created around the site and guests to the tournament won prizes and once in a lifetime opportunities by checking-in and unlocking badges during the event. On Monday, March 21 the Sony Ericsson Open unveiled its first mobile application presented by SAP. The app, which is available for both Android and iOS platforms, featured the latest mobile content including schedules of upcoming matches, the men’s and women’s draws, and the option to view live scores and completed matches. SAP worked with Sony Ericsson and the ATP World Tour to deliver real-time data feeds to help ensure the latest information was available through the app. The app was downloaded over 11,000 times during the two weeks of the tournament. On site, the Crandon Park Tennis Center was once again revitalized to improve the fan experience. The tournament had bold new site graphics, a larger video wall at the entertainment stage, many new food options both in the plaza as well as stadium concessions, more public seating around the site, and electric line calling on Grandstand as well as Stadium Court. The revamped food and beverage options were a big hit among guests this year. In partnership with Great Performances, the official food and beverage provider of the tournament, the Sony Ericsson Open gave visitors more choices than ever before including barbeque, a New York style deli, and Papa John’s Pizza. Inside the stadium the tournament created themed concession stands featuring Latin cuisine, New York style deli sandwiches, Italian sausage and peppers, and gourmet hot dogs. This year in the Collectors Club the Sony Ericsson Open hosted five leading James Beard Award Nominees who put together lunch and dinner menus for members to enjoy. The chefs participating included Sam Gorenstein, Kris Wessel, Michelle Bernstein, Norman Van Aken, and Hedy Goldsmith. The Sony Ericsson Open has become the most glamorous event on tour and this year’s event was definitely the place to be seen in Miami. The names of those visiting the tournament this year was like a who’s who of the entertainment and sports industries including actors Andy Garcia and Camilla Belle, model and actress Brooklyn Decker, Grammy award winning singer and reality star Brandy, music producer Bob Sinclair, Latin music star Alejandro Sanz, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Miami Heat All-Stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, golfers Sergio Garcia and Greg Norman, NFL star Reggie Bush and Olympic swimmer Dara Torres just to name a few. True to form, the Sony Ericsson Open was a global event with over 600 credentials issued to media from 30 countries including reporters from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Both the men’s and women’s finals were broadcast live on CBS. The tournament also made its return to ESPN2 with the network broadcasting 18 hours of coverage. Overall, the tournament received a record 77 hours of domestic television coverage on Tennis Channel, ESPN2 and CBS. For the fourth consecutive year the Sony Ericsson Open took to the streets of Miami to bring tennis to people. The tournament hosted events at Coconut Grove (March 24) and Bayside Marketplace (March 25) featuring video boards, player appearances and interactive games. The Sony Ericsson Open continued its long tradition of community service in 2011. On Friday, March 25 the Sony Ericsson Open hosted Tennis for Japan. That evening the global tennis family came together for a special fundraising event for the victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster featuring the stars of the WTA and the ATP World Tour. Kim Clijsters, Robin Soderling, Vera Zvonareva, and many others, including Japan’s Kei Nishikori, Kimiko Date-Krumm, and Ayumi Morita, walked through the stands of the Stadium Court to collect donations from fans and encouraged the public to show support for the victims. In total, thanks to contributions from the WTA, ATP World Tour, the Grand Slams (Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon, US Open), Sony Ericsson, ITF, IMG, SAP, Itaú, FILA, adidas and Lagardère, and the fans, the evening raised over $300,000 which will be donated to the Red Cross and other relief organizations to aid the victims of the disaster.
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