Former world No. 1 Venus Williams made a special appearance to sign autographs on High School Day for a throng of students gathered in the Grandstand Tent.
Williams, who made the third round of Cincinnati in ’09, has won seven Grand Slam titles in her career and 43 Tour titles overall. A viral illness has forced her to withdraw from this year’s Western & Southern Open, but she came on-site Sunday to fulfill sponsor obligations.
Along with the American’s visit, ’02 Wimbledon semifinalist Xavier Malisse spoke as part of a presentation made by Wellington Orthpaedic & Sports Medicine, which hosted the day’s activities.
This year, Malisse made the finals at Chennai in singles and won two Tour doubles titles, one in Los Angeles with Mark Knowles and the other at Indian Wells with Alexandr Dolgopolov.
Cincinnati-native Doug Spreen, who’s spent the last seven years as trainer for ’06 and ’03 Cincinnati champion Andy Roddick, also spoke to the crowd of High School Day fans. A general trainer on the ATP Tour for 10 years before focusing on Roddick, Spreen took fitness questions from the audience.
Expressing his excitement to arrive in the area on August 11, Spreen tweeted, "We are off to Cincy. 3 weeks of Rehab [for Roddick] in the books. Lets play some tennis, and it [is] in my home town!!!!!"
Meanwhile, the qualifying event continued, allowing 19 men and women the chance to earn a spot in the main draw.
Numerous Grand Slam champions also hit the practice courts during the day, including last year’s Cincinnati champion and 16-time major winner Roger Federer, 10-time major titlist Rafael Nadal, ’03 US Open winner Andy Roddick, last year’s Cincinnati finalist and three-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova, 2011 French Open winner Na Li, ’08 French Open winner Ana Ivanovic and 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.
By Benjamin Snyder