Defending champion Madison Keys leads five former champions who have entered next month's Western & Southern Open, which is slated to be the first Premier 5 event of the tour's resumption.

Keys won the biggest title of her career last year at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio over Svetlana Kuznetsova, and will embark on a unique title defense at this year's tournament, which will be held from Aug. 20-28 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.

The projected top seed for the event will be World No.3 Karolina Pliskova, the winner in Cincinnati in 2016, while two-time champion Serena Williams (2014-15), Kiki Bertens (2018) and Garbiñe Muguruza (2017) are the other former winners entered in the relocated event. 

Five of the world's Top 10 are entered in all, with reigning Australian Open champion and World No.4 Sofia Kenin and World No.8 Belinda Bencic rounding out the group that includes Pliskova, Bertens and Williams. 

Other notable entries - which include 14 of the current Top 20 - are World No.11 Aryna Sabalenka, winner of the Premier 5 Qatar Total Open in February, two-time Wimbledon champion and World No.12 Petra Kvitova, and World No.17 Elena Rybakina, who racked up a tour-leading 21 wins over the first two months of the season prior to the hiatus. 

Sixteen-year-old American Coco Gauff is among three teenagers in the field, joined by compatriot Amanda Anisimova and Iga Swiatek, while the last direct acceptance is World No.53 Fiona Ferro of France.

During the tour's hiatus, Ferro won two of three non-WTA national exhibition tournaments organized by the French Tennis Federation, and posted a 10-0 record on hard courts there. 

Read more: Two for two: Ferro repeats against Mladenovic in French exhibition

With the announcement of the field, Konta, Swiatek and Anastasija Sevastova have withdrawn from next week's 31° Palermo Ladies' Open in Italy. The Latvian, a semifinalist at the 2018 US Open and current World No.43, is also entered in the Western & Southern event. 

In a statement, Konta said: "Due to the forever changing nature of the situation, I’ve decided to withdraw from Palermo. I’m really hopeful I will one day get the chance to play there, so hopefully I will see you all next year."

World No.1 Ashleigh Barty has opted not to travel to New York for either the Western & Southern Open or the US Open, however.

"My team and I have decided that we won't be travelling to the US... this year," the Australian said in a statement.

"I love both events so it was a difficult decision but there are still significant risks involved due to COVID-19 and I don't feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position. I wish the USTA all the best for the tournaments and look forward to being back in the US next year."

The top eight seeds in the Western & Southern Open draw will receive first round byes, while 12 players will be added to the men's and women's singles fields through a two-round qualifying event that will be held on Aug. 20-21. The deadline for players to enter the qualifying event is Aug. 3, and five women will be awarded wildcard entries into the main draw that begins Aug. 22.

Click here to view the entire entry list for the Western & Southern Open.

Stay Connected Fan Mail: Sofia Kenin