INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - The field for the 2016 BNP Paribas Open has been announced; the list of big names, which already included World No.1 Serena Williams and defending champion World No.2 Simona Halep, now features former No.1 Venus Williams. The seven-time Grand Slam champion and four-time Olympic Gold medalist returns to Indian Wells for the first time in 15 years.
Other names in the field include World No.3 Garbiñe Muguruza, 2014 finalist Agnieszka Radwanska, 2006 and 2013 champion Maria Sharapova, two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber, and Lucie Safarova.
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The BNP Paribas Open is a combined two-week Premier Mandatory event running from March 9-20 held at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in sunny Indian Wells, California.
Venus joins sister Serena, who returned to Indian Wells last year and reached the semifinals before a knee injury ended her shot at the title she won in 1999 and 2001, the last time either sister played at the Premier Mandatory event.
"We are thrilled that Venus Williams, one of the greatest women's players in the history of the game, is returning to play in the BNP Paribas Open," said Indian Wells CEO Raymond Moore. "Our fans embraced Serena last year, and we expect nothing less for Venus when she returns to compete at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden."
"The fans will be thrilled to see Venus compete again in Indian Wells at the BNP Paribas Open," adds WTA CEO and former Indian Wells Tournament Director and COO, Steve Simon. "I'm delighted to see Venus take her place in this year's stellar line up of WTA and ATP players. This event keeps going from strength to strength and remains a clear fan and player favorite. I'm confident Venus will enjoy playing there again as much as we will enjoy seeing her on court."
Halep defeated 2010 champion and former No.1 Jelena Jankovic in three gritty sets to win last year's final, and fell two matches short of the elusive Indian Wells-Miami double when she lost to Serena in the semifinals of the Miami Open.
BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore by SC Global champion Radwanska rounds out the Top 4 and is currently contesting in her second Australian Open semifinal; the Pole had her best Indian Wells finish in 2014, when she took out Jankovic in the quarters and Halep in the semis, losing to future US Open champion Flavia Pennetta in the final.
Chasing the field will be two-time BNP Paribas Open champion Sharapova; the Russian first captured the Indian Wells title in 2006, later going on to win her second Grand Slam title at the US Open that same year. She struck gold again in California three years ago, defeating Caroline Wozniacki in the final.
This year, the BNP Paribas Open has launched a #TennisParadise Sweepstakes; win a VIP trip for two to this year's tournament by posting an image with the hashtag #TennisParadise on Twitter or Instagram. The contest runs from January 25-February 5.