| By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff
Former world number ones Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams have been awarded the first wild cards for the 2019 Western & Southern Open

Former world number ones Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams have been awarded the first wild cards for the 2019 Western & Southern Open. Both players join the main draw field for the tournament that will be held Aug. 10-18 at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio.

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

Sharapova owns 36 career titles, including five Majors, and is one of just six women to have achieved a career Grand Slam. She is the last teenager to win a Major title, doing so at Wimbledon 15 years ago at the age of 19. Sharapova also reached 23 WTA finals, which includes a Silver Medal at the 2012 Olympics. She has spent 21 weeks in her career as the number one-ranked player.

In her career, Venus Williams has won 49 titles, including seven Majors. She has been a finalist at all four Grand Slam events, finishing as runner-up nine times, most recently at the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2017. She has held the WTA number one ranking for 11 weeks. She won the singles Gold Medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and counts three Gold Medals and 14 Majors among her 22 career doubles titles, all of which have come with her sister, Serena. Venus will be playing the Western & Southern Open for a seventh time.

Sharapova and Williams join the previously announced 43 players on the initial entry list. Three more wild cards will be given and an additional eight players will round out the 56-player field through the two-round qualifying tournament that will take place on First Watch Opening Weekend, Aug. 10-11.