Porsche Grand Prix, Stuttgart 2024 – My Personal Experience

by Sebastiano Sali
Porsche Grand Prix

How did I end up going to the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart? The question is very spontaneous and the answer stems from another, very spontaneous question: “Dad, why we always come watch boys playing? Don’t they have tournaments for girls?” Yes, that’s my daughter complaining about me bringing her watching only men’s tennis. Hence, we decided to go to Stuttgart, the closest to home ladies tournament.

Taking with me a 6 year old who’s just started to play (and understand) a little bit of tennis, I thought the best option would be to just buy the entrance to the Porsche Arena, a sort of ground ticket equivalent, and stroll the side courts and the tennis village. Sitting down for hours to watch a tennis match in fact, might not be her cup of tea.

Well, while I still think that was the best idea, I had to wrestle against the reality that at the Porsche Grand Prix there’s no such an option: you have to buy a ticket for the seat in the Centre Court if you want to enter the Porsche Arena and the village. Upside: children until 6 don’t pay, but they also don’t get a seat reservation, so I am not sure how that would work out if instead of Wednesday, like us, you show up on the day of the final.

Second big disclaimer: make sure you are 100% sure of when you really want to (or can) go, because once you have purchased your ticket, there’s no way you can change the day (even for a more expensive ticket, as in our case we would have liked to change it to Thursday), let alone sell it back. The only thing you could theoretically do is put your ticket out for sale on any social network you like to use and hope that somebody is interested and willing to pay a sum somewhat close to the full price (one person offered me 20 euros for a perfectly in good shape 65 euros ticket: are you for real??).

Overall a Great Experience

Having said all that, it was overall a great experience which I would truly recommend. Especially to those who want to introduce their little ones to the world of tennis tournaments. Let’s avoid stereotypes right away (Germany’s public venues and events are super child-friendly); we were in another tournament in Germany last summer and there was absolutely nothing, no-thing, dedicated to children. They could have died of boredom!

Outside the main entrance, Porsche Arena

In the Porsche Arena on the contrary, there are so many activities for children that the tennis could even shift in the background for them (as it did for my own little one when she became super tired towards the end of the day). Mini-tennis, mini-ping pong, video games (Porsche racing, ça va sans dire), crafting activities, hot wheels cars and electric hot wheels tracks to play with and a whole room where they can colour and draw. And most of these activities are supervised by adults who look after a limited number of children, so that if your kids are independent enough to be without you, you can enjoy some tennis on your own. And that’s what I did (but please don’t judge me, I love my daughter!).

Last but not least, loads of Kinder chocolate snacks and other freebies are always at hand: what else?

Top Level Players

The Porsche Grand Prix is a 500 WTA, but sporting eight of the top 10 female players in the world, it actually offers a much higher experience in terms of the level of the game. One cannot say the same for the Porsche Arena and the village though.

There are only three courts in total: the Center Court, Court 1 (in the adjacent old building) and the practice court (as well in the building adjacent to the Porsche Arena). The village is very small, with limited shopping and food opportunities.

The upside of this reduced size is that players, in order to get their rackets strung, to go to practice, to get on court and so on, have no other option but to fence through the crowd. Thus, it can easily happen to step on some professional foot (‘Ouch!! Hey watch… – oh, Iga could we take a picture please?’, that’s quite literally what happened to us). Vickery, Vondrusova, Samsonova, my daughter was ecstatic. And then we had a nice chat with the Italian contingent: Jasmine Paolini, Sara Errani and the old-timer Italian Davis-man Renzo Furlan (today Paolini’s coach).

The atmosphere is very relaxed and friendly and that’s probably exactly because of the contained size of the event. And again, Ons Jabeur’s Pro Staffs (for you nerds: lots of tape at 3 and 9, but a rather dull full bed of Alu Power at 21/20), Vickery’s Diadem (could not grasp the specs though). And finally Iga’s training, which was for me the real highlight of the day. Intense, meticulous, zeroed-in (never seen anybody so focussed), with outstanding footwork. I shared some videos on TN’s Instagram, go check them out, it is really impressive.

Once we stepped on the Centre Court to watch Ons Jabeur winning in the tie-break of the third set against Ekaterina Alexandrova (Ons still to find her best shape for sure), the sensation is to enter some sort of iMax theatre: very dark, with lots of flashy fluo-lights, an immense led-wall right in your face and, weirdly enough, three different and yet equally amazing Porsche cars parked right beneath it and a stone-throw from the centre court’s baseline. I must say I have mixed feelings about this futuristic style: it did not give me great vibes, but that might just be me.

Other Fun Stuff

Some fun bits from the day: to prove myself I’m a proud member of the Tennisnerd community, I entered the Asics stand challenge of having to guess the weight of the new Asics Court FF in size US 9.5. I won’t spoil the surprise, but just telling you that I was very, very close to the right weight. Take your guess!

Always at the Asics stall, I got into a chat with the two young men working there (it turns out they’re from a neighbouring town of ours and we even play in the same tennis league!) and they confessed that on the Monday, Jabeur’s coach showed up at the stall requesting two pairs of shoes for Ons. She must have liked them very much, because the day after he was back requesting other two pairs, though this time half-a-size bigger.

If you carefully check Ons’ footage from both Stuttgart and now Madrid, you can easily spot the very same shoes. Is she going to switch to Asics? Will she have her newly signed sponsor to make an identical shoe but with different branding? Who knows, but these are questions a true tennisnerd cannot avoid to ponder on.

Lastly, for all of you followers of the Tennisnerd YouTube channel out there, I got the chance to meet Nikki in person (yes, the Real Nikki) while he was working at the Yonex stringing service and I can confirm to you all that he is exactly the great guy that comes across in the videos! 

To conclude, I would definitely recommend to pay a visit to the Stuttgart Open during your tennis travels if you have the chance to: the level of tennis is very high, the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly and, once you get around the never-ending construction works of the Stuttgart main train station (practical tip: get off and on in Stuttgart Bad Cannstatt if you can), it’s very easy to reach the Porsche Arena via public transport. And if you have more questions or want more practical information, don’t hesitate to get in touch or comment below!

And now finally, to the outdoor season…

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