Williams joins list of big names in Cincinnati

June 26, 2006 03:28 PM

Serena Williams Expected to Play W&SFG

MASON, OHIO – Seven-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams is expected to join four top 25 players and a host of other recognizable names in the field for the only WTA Tour event in the Midwest: Cincinnati's Western & Southern Financial Group Women's Open.

"I have decided to return to competitive tennis at Cincinnati's Western & Southern Financial Group Women's Open, the week of July 17," Williams, who has not played since the Australian Open in January, said. "Lately I have been working very hard on making my knee stronger, and that work is progressing well. Barring any setbacks, it is my hope that I will be able to rejoin the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour at Cincinnati."

Williams will have stiff competition in her return. Some of the women expected to play the Western & Southern Financial Group Women's Open include defending champion Patty Schynder, 2004 French Open champ Anastasia Myskina, former top 5 player and 2005 Cincinnati semifinalist Daniela Hantuchova, exciting youngster Tatiana Golovin, 2004 Cincinnati finalist Vera Zvonareva, 2005 finalist Akiko Morigami, 2005 Cincinnati quarterfinalist Jelena Jankovic, and 2004 semifinalist Amy Frazier as well as Marion Bartoli, Sania Mirza, and Laura Granville, to name a few.

"Of the final 16 at the French Open last week, four are coming here," said tournament director Bruce Flory. "Last year there were three Top 25 players in the draw and it looks like this year there will be four in the Top 25, as well as Serena Williams. The field for this event has gotten consistently stronger since the women returned in 2004, and we're very excited about this field. It looks like it could be the best year yet."

On the subject of Williams, Flory said, "We're delighted she's indicated a desire to play here. We're tempering that excitement with the knowledge that sometimes an injury can linger. Of course we hope that doesn't happen, and we'll keep in touch with her agent about her health as the tournament gets closer. We are thrilled about the possibility of her playing here for our fans."