| By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff
Photo credit: Kenneth B. Goldberg

The USTA has announced that world number one and defending champion Serena Williams leads the women’s field for the 2013 U.S. Open Tennis Championships, set for Aug. 26 through Sept. 9 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. Joining Serena will be 100 of the world’s top 102 women, including reigning Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka and reigning Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli, as well as former U.S. Open champions Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Samantha Stosur. In all, 38 different countries are represented in the women’s field. Ten U.S. women received direct entry into the main draw—the most of any country. Six Americans are currently ranked in the top 50.

Leading the entry list is Serena, who backed up her Olympic gold medal and Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles in 2012 with a French Open title in 2013, a run that included a stretch where she went 77-4 in singles play. Overall, she has won 16 Grand Slam singles titles and won her fourth U.S. Open crown last year, tying her for third with Martina Navratilova for most U.S. Open women’s singles titles in the Open Era behind Steffi Graf with five and Chris Evert with six.

World number two and 2006 U.S. Open champion Sharapova won her last Grand Slam title at the 2012 French Open, completing the career Grand Slam with the win. She also reached the final of the 2013 French Open, losing to Serena.

World number three Azarenka won her second consecutive Australian Open singles title this year. She was the runner-up to Serena in last year’s U.S. Open final and reached the semifinals of the 2013 French Open. Azarenka held the number one ranking for the first half of the year in 2012.

World number four Agnieszka Radwanska pushed Serena to three sets in the 2012 Wimbledon final and became the first Polish player in the Open Era to reach a Grand Slam singles final. This year, she reached the semifinals of Wimbledon and the quarterfinals of both the Australian Open and the French Open.

Following Serena, Sharapova, Azarenka and Radwanska are number five Li Na of China, who won the 2011 French Open singles title, making her Asia's first and only Grand Slam singles champion; number six Sara Errani of Italy, who was a runner-up at the 2012 French Open and reached the semifinals of the 2012 U.S. Open; number seven Marion Bartoli of France, who won her first Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon this year; number eight Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, the 2011 Wimbledon champion; number nine Angelique Kerber of Germany, a 2011 U.S. Open semifinalist; and number 10 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, the 2009 U.S. Open runner-up and a two-time U.S. Open semifinalist. Altogether, there are 11 players who have won Grand Slam singles titles in their careers competing in the U.S. Open this year, including former world number one Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, who won the 2008 French Open; and 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone.

Dinah Pfizenmaier of Germany, ranked 102nd in the world, is the last player accepted directly into the women’s field of 128. Two players have withdrawn due to injury—Romina Oprandi of Switzerland (ranked 45th in the world, right shoulder) and Garbine Muguruza of Spain (ranked 53rd in the world, right foot). Additionally, four players used protected rankings to gain direct entry—Alisa Kleybanova of Russia, who is making a return to the WTA tour after suffering from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada; Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic; and Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania. Sixteen more players will gain entry through the U.S. Open Qualifying Tournament, set for Aug. 20-23, while the remaining eight spots are wild cards awarded by the USTA.

In addition to Serena, other American women who received direct entry into this year’s tournament include: Number 16 Sloane Stephens of Coral Springs, Fla.; number 29 Jamie Hampton of Auburn, Ala.; number 35 Venus Williams of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; number 36 Varvara Lepchenko of Allentown, Pa.; number 44 Madison Keys of Boca Raton, Fla.; number 55 Bethanie Mattek-Sands of Phoenix; number 78 Mallory Burdette of Jackson, Ga.; number 79 Christina McHale of Englewood Cliffs, N.J.; and number 88 Lauren Davis of Boca Raton, Fla.