Tennis

Venus takes wildcard into Birmingham

BIRMINGHAM, UK – Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams will make her debut in Birmingham next week, having accepted a wildcard into the Nature Valley Classic.

The former World No.1, who lost in the first round of Roland Garros to Elina Svitolina, will play a Wimbledon warm-up for just the fourth time in her career – and first outside Eastbourne, where she competed in 1997, 1998 and 2011. Williams is seeking to capture her 50th career title.

Williams was eager to play the event for the first time, saying: “I’m really excited to be playing in Birmingham for the first time. I always love playing on grass in front of British crowds and have heard wonderful things about the tournament.”

Meanwhile, tournament director Patrick Hughesman said: “We are delighted to welcome Venus to Birmingham. Having so many big stars playing this year gives us a great opportunity to open tennis up to a new audience. Venus is a tennis legend in her own lifetime and she’s also a fantastic role model, whose impact reaches well beyond the sport.”

Williams joins one of the most stacked fields in Birmingham’s tournament history: World No.1 Naomi Osaka, newly crowned Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty, defending champion and two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova and resurgent British No.1 Johanna Konta will also be in the draw. However, 2017 Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza has been forced to withdraw due to a left leg injury.

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