<a href="https:\/\/mountainmedianews.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/13\/2016\/09\/Venus-Williams.jpg"><img class="alignleft size-medium wp-image-21558" alt="venus-williams" src="https:\/\/mountainmedianews.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/13\/2016\/09\/Venus-Williams-237x300.jpg" width="237" height="300" \/><\/a>Nearly three months after the devastating floods that impacted Greenbrier County and so much of West Virginia, The Greenbrier is set to welcome thousands of tennis fans to Center Court at Creekside for the 2016 version of The Greenbrier Champions Tennis Classic, Sept. 17-18.\r\nThe June 23 floods left The Greenbrier\u2019s state-of-the-art tennis facility, which opened in June of 2015, filled with nearly 20 feet water, but the 2,500-seat stadium has been cleaned and repaired and is ready for action.\r\nIn fact, the three matches that will be played during The Greenbrier Champions Tennis Classic will take place on a brand new DecoTurf surface, identical to the courts at the U.S. Open.\r\n\u201cWe decided to change the court from Har-Tru clay to a hard court,\u201d said Terry Deremer, The Greenbrier\u2019s director of tennis. \u201cOur thought was that one of our goals was to attract the Federation Cup or the Davis Cup. The men, in particular, wanted to play on a hard court, and it also helps us attract current players for both practices and exhibitions. So we decided to change it to a hard court. We\u2019re really excited about the new surface, and the players are too.\u201d\r\nThe Greenbrier Champions Tennis Classic is now in its fifth year, and for the first time the tennis showcase, which celebrates The Greenbrier\u2019s rich history with the sport, will include women\u2019s players. Venus Williams and Madison Keys, both currently ranked in the top 10 in the world, will be the inaugural women\u2019s participants. They both recently reached the Round of 16 at the U.S. Open, and Keys reached the semifinal round at the Olympics in Rio.\r\n\u201cWe\u2019re excited to be in the inaugural women\u2019s event,\u201d said Williams. \u201cWe\u2019ve had great matches in the past, and I\u2019m sure this will be another great match and great preparation for us going into the end of the season.\u201d\r\nWilliams, currently ranked No. 6 in the WTA Rankings and a former world No. 1 with seven Grand Slam singles titles, will take on Keys, a 21-year-old rising star currently ranked No. 9 in the WTA Rankings, in a singles match at noon on Saturday, Sept. 17. They will be the first current professionals to compete in The Greenbrier Champions Tennis Classic.\r\n\u201cI think it\u2019s fun when you get to do an exhibition,\u201d said Keys. \u201cYou still compete and show off your tennis, but you get to have a little more fun with it, and it\u2019s a lot less stressful. I think we put on more of a show for the crowd.\u201d\r\nThe second singles match of the opening day will put 14-time Grand Slam champion Pete Sampras, The Greenbrier\u2019s Tennis Professional Emeritus, up against John McEnroe, a seven-time Grand Slam Champion with 77 career singles titles. That match is scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. start.\r\n\u201cI\u2019m looking forward to coming back and playing against John,\u201d said Sampras. \u201cWe played there five years ago in the first match. He was one of my heroes growing up, and I\u2019ve always enjoyed my time there at The Greenbrier.\u201d\r\nCenter Court at Creekside had not been constructed during McEnroe\u2019s first two appearance at The Greenbrier, and last year his match had to be moved inside because of rain. The International Tennis Hall of Famer said he\u2019s looking forward to playing inside the beautiful new facility, which was the vision of The Greenbrier owner Jim Justice, as well as Eaton CEO and tennis supporter Sandy Cutler.\r\n\u201cIt will be nice to be able to do that,\u201d said McEnroe. \u201cI\u2019ve enjoyed every time I\u2019ve been there, and obviously playing Pete is awesome.\u201d\r\nThe schedule for Sunday, Sept. 18, features a mixed doubles match with Sampras and Williams taking on McEnroe and Keys.\r\n\u201cI absolutely love doubles,\u201d said Williams. \u201cI\u2019m looking forward to teaming up and maybe getting a win. We\u2019ll see what Madison has to say about that.\u201d\r\nFor Sampras, the mixed doubles experience will be something new and exciting.\r\n\u201cI played mixed doubles with my sister in the juniors, and that may be the last time I played,\u201d he said. \u201cSo I never actually played mixed doubles like John has. It will be new to me, and I\u2019m looking forward to it.\u201d\r\nMore than anything, though, the players agree that they\u2019re most excited about simply getting on the court and providing a few hours of smiles, laughter and excitement for a community that has experienced so many difficult times.\r\n\u201cI know Venus and I are both just really happy that everything was able to come together so that we could still do this amazing event,\u201d said Keys. \u201cHopefully we can create happy memories for a fun weekend.\u201d\r\n\u201cWe understand that tennis doesn\u2019t come through that area very often,\u201d added McEnroe. \u201cYou want to be a part of something they\u2019ll remember. You want to put on a good show, but you also want to play well.\u201d\r\nTickets for single days and the entire weekend are still available for purchase, as are packages that include overnight accommodations at The Greenbrier. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Greenbrier.com\/TennisClassic.