The 2018 Australian Open main draw entry list was finalized on Wednesday, with last year's WTA Year-End World No.1 Simona Halep leading the pack.
Halep clinched the top spot after reaching her second Premier Mandatory final of 2017 at the China Open, and held off six potential usurpers (four of whom former WTA World No.1s) at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global to take the No.1 ranking into the off season.
The Top 32 seeds won't be determined until the start of the season, with Halep aiming to lead a Grand Slam field for the first time in her career, though World No.2 Garbiñe Muguruza and WTA Finals champion Caroline Wozniacki aren't far behind in the WTA rankings.
Defending champion Serena Williams continues to keep her option of an early comeback open by entering the 2018 Australian Open. Coach Patrick Mourataglou spoke to CNN after Thanksgiving with plans to join the 23-time Grand Slam champion during the off-season, but admitted Williams had yet to make a firm decision whether to play so soon after giving birth to daughter Alexis Olympia and marrying husband Alexis Ohanian.
Absent from the entry list is two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, who has been off the tour due for personal reasons since Wimbledon, where she reached the round fo 16.
Maria Sharapova is set to play her first Australian Open since 2016, having assured herself of a spot in the main draw after a strong fall swing that included a title run at the Tianjin Open.
Anna-Lena Friedsam, Margarita Gasparyan, and Kristina Kucova have all entered with the use of protected rankings. Friendsam and Gasparyan each enjoyed breakout Australian Open runs in 2016 - each making the second week - but have been plagued by injuries since.