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Serena headlines 2016 US Open women’s field

September 8, 2015 - Serena Williams in action against Venus Williams (not pictured) in a women's singles quarterfinal match during the 2015 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY. (USTA/Michael LeBrecht)

A year ago Serena Williams arrived at the US Open looking to become the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1988 to win the calendar-year Grand Slam. She will be coming to New York with history on the line once again in 2016.

The official women’s singles field for this year’s US Open was announced Wednesday, and it will again be headlined by Williams, the reigning Wimbledon champion and world No. 1. A victory in Flushing Meadows would be her seventh US Open women’s singles title – snapping a tie with Chris Evert for the most in the Open era – and her 23rd Grand Slam singles title – which would surpass the current Open era mark she shares with Graf.

In all, 101 of the top 103 women in the current world rankings are on the initial entry list, including past US Open champions Serena, Venus Williams (2000-01), Svetlana Kuznetsova (2004) and Samantha Stosur (2011). Notably absent is the 2015 winner, Flavia Pennetta, who announced her retirement from the game in the on-court ceremony following her maiden Grand Slam triumph a year ago.

Also slated to appear at this year’s Open are 2016 Australian Open champion and world No. 2 Angelique Kerber, 2016 French Open titlist and world No. 3 Garbiñe Muguruza and past US Open finalists Roberta Vinci (2015) and Caroline Wozniacki (2009, 2014).

Rounding out the top 10 entries are world No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanksa, No. 5 Simona Halep, No. 7 Venus, No. 8 Vinci, No. 9 Carla Suárez Navarro, No. 10 Svetlana Kuznetsova and No. 11 Madison Keys.

Not entered are world No. 6 and two-time US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka, who announced last week that she is pregnant and taking an indefinite leave from the tour, and No. 97 and 2006 champion Maria Sharapova, out due to an ITF anti-doping provisional suspension that is currently under appeal.

There are 37 different countries represented in the 2016 women’s entry list. Fourteen U.S. women received direct entry into the main draw, which is the most of any country and the most for American women since 15 earned direct entry in 2004.

In addition to Serena, Venus and Keys, the other American women set for this year’s field are world No. 23 Sloane Stephens, No. 35 CoCo Vandeweghe, No. 52 Varvara Lepchenko, No. 55 Madison Brengle, No. 57 Shelby Rogers, No. 63 Christina McHale, No. 69 Louisa Chirico, No. 70 Irina Falconi, No. 71 Nicole Gibbs, No. 78 Alison Riske and No. 101 Samantha Crawford.

The last player accepted directly into the women’s field of 128 was Belarussian Aliaksandra Sasnovich, ranked No. 103. Three players are using a special ranking to gain entry into the main draw: No. 27 and 2014 US Open semifinalist Peng Shuai, No. 64 Galina Voskoboeva and No. 91 Vitalia Diatchenko.

Sixteen more players will gain entry through the US Open Qualifying Tournament, held Aug. 23-26, with the remaining eight spots reserved for wild cards awarded by the USTA.

The July 18 edition of the WTA rankings was used to determine the US Open main draw entry list. Seeds will be determined and announced closer to the start of the event.

The 2016 US Open will be played Monday, Aug. 29, through Sunday, Sept. 11, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The US Open women’s singles championship is presented by J.P. Morgan.