Venus Williams, a five-time Wimbledon winner, and British no.1 Johanna Konta are the main attractions at the Nottingham Tennis Centre for the 2021 Nottingham Open.
This could be the last chance for British fans to see the US icon on court, as she could hang up her racquet should she not make it to this year’s Olympics in Japan – or indeed the 10-time Grand Slam champion could retire after the Games in Toyko.
The veteran has competed at other Wimbledon warm-up events in England, the Birmingham Classic and Eastbourne International, so could soon be making her debut in Nottingham.
As popular as Williams is with the fans, her days on the WTA Tour are numbered as she has slipped out of the world’s top 100. She is now remembered by many tennis fans for being annihilated by teenage compatriot Cori “Coco” Gauff on the Centre Court at 2019 Wimbledon.
Konta, twice a runner-up at Nottingham, is another player who has failed to have any impact this season. She has recently had a miserable time on the WTA Tour with an exceptionally poor showing on clay, so the Eastbourne-based Australian-born ace will be welcoming back the grass court season.
Belinda Bencic, the Swiss world no.11, is scheduled to be the top seed although the entrants can all alter because the French Open dates have been switched this year due to COVID-19. This means that any players still involved at Roland Garros will automatically withdraw, and explains the reason why there is no one from the world’s top 10 signed up.
Croatia’s Donna Vekić, who won the 2017 title at Nottingham, could be a force to be reckoned. British no.2 Heather Watson, who always gets incredible home support on court, joins the entrants for the WTA 250 level tournament for a fifth time.
The Singles main draw has been increased to 48 players, with up to five wildcards available as any leading players who succumb to the red clay in Paris may wish to polish their game on grass before a shot at Wimbledon.
Rebecca James, LTA Tournament Director for the Nottingham Open, explained: “The Nottingham Open marks the much anticipated return of our summer grass court season.
“We are delighted to be bringing world-class tennis back to Nottingham, and we are looking forward to starting the 2021 grass court season with a bang.”