PARIS, France - The Wimbledon qualifying draw was released on Monday, and the race for 12 main draw spots in the second Grand Slam of 2016 will be tougher than ever once play begins Tuesday.
Wimbledon is the only major tournament not to hold its qualifying event at the same venue as main draw play; to protect the easily-damaged grass courts from three extra matches worth of wear and tear, the qualiying contenders head to the Bank of England Sports Grounds in nearby Roehampton.
Leading the field is Germany's Tatjana Maria, who is the top seed under a great deal of pressure. The German enjoyed her best Grand Slam finish at this very tournament one year ago, and will need to hit the ground running against opening round opponent Myrtille Georges if she hopes to have a chance to defend those critical ranking points.
Seeded just behind Maria is Swiss Fed Cup heroine Viktorija Golubic, who nearly single-handedly engineered an upset of the vaunted Czech team earlier this season in the semifinals. Golubic qualified for her first-ever Grand Slam main draws at this year's Australian and French Opens, and will aim to continue the trend in Roehampton, opening against Anastasia Pivovarova. A former World No.93, Pivovarova reached the third round of the French Open back in 2010, but has been dealt a career rife with injuries, and is playing in her first Grand Slam event since 2012.
Unseeded in qualifying are doubles stars Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova. The former was ranked as high as No.53 earlier in the year, but has seen her ranking tumble down to No.167 after a string of disappointing results. Hradecka opens against No.3 seed Zhang Kai-Lin, while Hlavackova could play No.18 seed Richel Hogenkamp in the second round.
Birmingham finalists Vania King and Alla Kudryavtseva are also in the qualifying draw, but have the unenviable task of playing one another in the first round. The No.9 team on the Road to Singapore leaderboard have already played twice in 2016, with each match going the distance.
Other names to watch in the draw include No.7 seed Tamira Paszek, who is best known for her back-to-back Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2011 and 2012. Paszek enjoyed a solid grass court warm-up in which she reached the quarterfinals of Nottingham and, as a qualifier, the second round of Birmingham - falling to eventual champion Madison Keys. Wildcard Ashleigh Barty is also a standout in the qualifying draw; the young Aussie made her singles comeback after over a year away and promptly reached the semifinals of a $50,000 Challenger in Eastbourne and the quarterfinals of Nottingham - both times as a qualifier.
All photos courtesy of Getty Images.