CINCINNATI — Tennis icons Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova have been awarded the first wild cards for this year’s Western & Southern Open, the Cincinnati-area tennis competition announced Monday.
The Majors winners and former world number ones will both join the main draw field for the tournament, held at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason Aug. 10-18.
Williams, 39, has 49 titles including seven Major titles. She has been a finalist at all four Grand Slam events, finishing as runner-up nine times. The Women’s Tennis Association recognized her as the number one player in the world for 11 weeks.
Williams won the Olympic gold in singles in 2000. She won three more gold medals in doubles with her sister, Serena. She last played at the W&S Open in 2017, and has appeared at the tournament seven times since 1994. Williams withdrew from the 2018 tournament due to a knee injury.
Sharapova, 32, has 36 titles including five major titles. She is one of six women to have achieved a career Grand Slam and has spent 21 weeks of her career as the WTA top player in the world.
Sharapova, who won at Wimbledon at age 19, is the last teenager to win a Major title. She also earned the Olympic silver medal in 2012. In 2017, Sharapova withdrew from the W&S Open because of a forearm injury and hasn’t played at the tournament since 2014.
“Maria and Venus are two of the greatest champions in tennis history,” said Tournament Director Andre Silva. “We look forward to both joining our world class field and are eager for the tournament to get underway next weekend.”
The champion tennis stars join the previously announced 43 players on the initial entry list. Three more wild cards will be given, and an additional eight players will round out the 56-player field through the two-round qualifying tournament, which will take place on First Watch Opening Weekend, Aug. 10-11.
Last year’s event, which also features music acts and vendors, drew over 194,000 visitors.