Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova awarded Cincinnati wild cards

Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova awarded Cincinnati wild cards

The former No. 1s join the previously announced field of 43 players who made the initial entry list.

Former multiple major champions Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova will join a strong field at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati after being awarded wild cards into the WTA Premier 5 event.

“Maria and Venus are two of the greatest champions in tennis history,” Tournament Director Andre Silva said. “We look forward to both joining our world-class field and are eager for the tournament to get underway next weekend.”

Williams and Sharapova suffered disappointing first-round exits at Wimbledon (Getty Images)

Williams is 14-8 this season but has seen her ranking drop outside of the Top 50. She returns to action this week in San Jose—where she also received a wild card—to play her first match since being upstaged by 15-year-old qualifier Coco Gauff in the first round of Wimbledon. Williams is expected to face countrywoman Bethanie Mattek-Sands on Tuesday.

Sharapova, who lifted the Cincinnati trophy eight years ago, has questions regarding her health. After returning in mid-June from a shoulder injury that sidelined her for nearly six months, the Russian retired down 0-5 in the third set of her opening Wimbledon match against Pauline Parmentier due to a left forearm issue.   

The pair of past No. 1s join 43 players who made the initial entry list cutoff, including world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, 23-time major winner Serena Williams and defending Cincinnati champion Kiki Bertens. Three additional wild cards are yet to be allocated.