The big names are ready to roll at the Top Seed Open in Lexington, Kentucky.
The Williams sisters will be joined by six other Top 40 players as the WTA holds it first tournament on American soil since the Coronavirus stopped the tour in early March.
Top-seeded Serena Williams will square off with fellow American Bernarda Pera in the first round, and she could face her sister Venus in the second round—if 40-year-old Venus Williams can get past Victoria Azarenka.
Serena says she is taking no risks when it comes to social distancing and protecting herself from the coronavirus. Five million Americans have already tested positive for Covid-19 in America.
“I’ve been a little bit of a recluse,” Williams told reporters on Saturday in a virtual press conference. “I started self-distancing before, like early March, or something.”
Williams says her own personal health has made her even more careful than she might have otherwise been.
“I don’t have full lung capacity so I’m not sure what would happen to me. I’m sure I’ll be okay but I don’t want to find out,” she said. “I have like 50 masks that I travel with; I never want to be without one. So health concerned, I’m super, super careful with what I’m doing and everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected because, at the end of the day yeah it’s cool to play tennis but this is my life and this is my health, so I’ve been a little neurotic to an extent but that’s just what I have to be right now.”
Third-seeded Johanna Konta, who faces Marie Bouzkova in first-round action, is also being extra careful. The British No.1 flew to Chicago and rented a car to drive to Lexington to keep her risk of exposure low.
“I arrived in the states on Thursday,” she told Ros Satar of Britwatch Sports in a virtual press conference on Sunday. “I actually flew from London to Chicago and then we rented a car and drove from Chicago, so we are going to keep that car and actually drive it to New York, to just try to really mitigate how much time I spend in airports and airplanes, just to be as vigilant as possible with that.”
The Lexington draw also features Aryna Sabalenka, Coco Gauff, Amanda Anisimova, Ons Jabeur, CiCi Bellis and Sloane Stephens.
Main draw begins on Monday.
American Sloane Stephens, who also is active in the WTA’s Player Council, is happy to see her peers have the opportunity to get some work as the tour begins to roll again. It could be a short season, with the Asian swing cancelled and other events in Europe also falling by the wayside.
For now, at least, the opportunity is here for those players that need the work, and want to compete.
“Being able to get the American players that are still in the states to be able to play a tournament I think it was really important,” Stephens said. “Obviously because there were two tournaments in Europe—we can’t really travel there and back—so obviously it was good to be able to play here before Cincinnati and to be able to have those jobs this week.”
See the full draw for Lexington here:
— TennisNow (@Tennis_Now) August 9, 2020