The LTA have today announced that Britons Heather Watson and Harriet Dart will join their GB Fed Cup team-mate Johanna Konta in the main draw at this year’s Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham, an LTA summer grass court event.

Watson, from Guernsey, and Londoner Dart have been awarded wildcards into the WTA Premier event, which features some of the biggest names in women’s tennis. As well as Konta, this year’s star-studded line-up also boasts the world’s top three players: No.1 Naomi Osaka, No.2 and newly-crowned Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty and World No.3 Karolina Pliskova. Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams is also set to compete in Birmingham for the first time.

LTA Head of Women’s Tennis Iain Bates said:

“Heather has made good progress in recent weeks, winning an ITF 60K title in Japan and starting the grass court season well in Surbiton. Harriet reached a career high ranking earlier in 2019 and also had an encouraging start to her grass court campaign at the Nature Valley Open. Once again it is a really strong line up at the Nature Valley Classic so this will provide an excellent opportunity for both players to test themselves against some of the best players in the world.”

Speaking ahead of what will be her first tournament since winning her maiden Grand Slam title in Paris, Barty said:

“In all honesty this is a fresh start, a clean slate and a new season, jumping on the grass. I’m excited to be here in Birmingham. This is a time of year that I love playing tennis. It’s a strong field here; it always is. Incredible field. A lot of the girls love coming to Birmingham. It’s a beautiful place to play tennis. The Club here is amazing. It’s got everything that we need. The more grass court matches you can get before Wimbledon, the better.”

Qualifying in Birmingham gets underway tomorrow (Saturday) at the Edgbaston Priory Club. This year’s strong entry list means a host of top 100 players will be forced to try and qualify this weekend and claim one of eight spots up for grabs in the main draw. 

Polish teenager Iga Swiatek is top seed in qualifying. Britons Naiktha Bains (Leeds), Tara Moore (Doncaster), Eden Silva (Essex) and Beth Grey (Liverpool) have all been awarded wildcards into the qualifying draw.

First Round
[1] I. Swiatek (POL) vs. M. Trevisan (ITA)
E. Perez (AUS) vs. R. Anderson (USA)
J. Ponchet (FRA) vs. M. Frech (POL)
[WC] E. Silva (GBR) vs. [5] B. Pera (USA)
[2] A. Potapova (RUS) vs. S. Vickery (USA)
D. Jakupovic (SLO) vs. A. Kalinskaya (RUS)
C. Mcnally (USA) vs. [WC] T. Moore (GBR)
V. Tomova (BUL) vs. [8] M. Doi (JPN)
[3] J. Pegula (USA) vs. A. Raina (IND)
Kr. Pliskova (CZE) vs. S. Zhuk (RUS)
L. Samsonova (RUS) vs. M. Bolkvadze (GEO)
M. Bouzkova (CZE) vs. [7] Z. Diyas (KAZ)
[4] A. Sharma (AUS) vs. [WC] S. Grey (GBR)
T. Korpatsch (GER) vs. D. Lao (USA)
[WC] N. Bains (GBR) vs. C. Liu (USA)
E. Rybakina (KAZ) vs. [6] L. Davis (USA)


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