Of the new faces at this year’s ASB Classic, one that stands out more than most is Bethanie Mattek-Sands – or as she’s otherwise called, the “Lady Gaga of tennis”.
The 30-year-old from Rochester, Minnesota, has been as well known for her outlandish tennis outfits as she is for her backhand slice.
In more recent years she’s developed into one of the best doubles players in the women’s game.
Mattek-Sands won doubles at the Australian and French Opens this year and also the mixed doubles at the Paris Grand Slam.
While her best results are in doubles, she hasn’t given up on singles and at her most recent tournament in Beijing, she made it to the quarterfinals, defeating world No 15, Roberta Vinci along the way.
“2015 was an outstanding year for so many reasons and I will certainly remember it throughout the rest of my career and beyond,” the American said.
“My Slam results in singles during 2015 were solid and I was happy with my level of play.
“I had some great wins over some great players but I go into each tournament believing that I can win it all.
“But it’s now the 2016 season and I’m ready to make even more memories.”
Mattek-Sands, who has a tattoo down most of one of her arms and frequently dyes her hair an array of colours, has achieved notoriety for some of her outfits, including jackets covered in tennis balls and leopard print tennis dresses, as well as her signature knee-high socks.
Kiwi fashionistas will no doubt be keen to see what she wears at Stanley Street this week, while Mattek-Sands is looking forward to being in Auckland for the first time.
“I’ve been keen to experience New Zealand for years but scheduling, Hopman Cup and season start dates have kept me away,” she said.
“I’ve heard nothing but great things about the diversity of New Zealand.
“My husband is very much into the outdoors so he is very excited to see the country as am I.
“I did catch the All Blacks win a second straight rugby World Cup while I was in Singapore for the year end championships.
“Amazing to see a country with such a small population can dominate a sport like rugby for so many years.”