Two of the WTA's biggest names - as well as a very, very special guest of honor - will be the star attractions at the Shenzhen Open in the first week of 2015.
WTA Staff

SHENZHEN, China - Two of the WTA's biggest names, Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova, will be the star attractions at the Shenzhen Open in the first week of 2015 - as well as a special guest of honor.

Halep was the queen of the WTA Rising Stars in 2014, starting the year at No.11 and finishing No.3, her season highlighted by her first Grand Slam final at the French Open, her seventh and eighth WTA titles at Doha and Bucharest and setting a career-high of No.2 in the world, breaking the Romanian ranking record by a long way (Irina Spirlea held the previous record, going as high as No.7).

"This year was a great year for me and I am very proud of what I achieved," Halep said. "I am looking forward to 2015 and I believe playing in Shenzhen will be a good way for me to start things."

Kvitova arguably had an even better 2014 season, finishing just below Halep at No.4 but capturing her second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, her first coming at the All-England Club three years before.

She also had a fantastic Asian swing this year - she was almost unstoppable at the Premier-level events in Wuhan and Beijing, winning Wuhan and keeping that run going by reaching the Beijing final.

"I am very excited to be coming to the Shenzhen Open," Kvitova said. "I have always enjoyed playing in China and the country was great for the results I had this year. The fans in China have been very supportive towards me and that makes it even more exciting to play in front of the people there.

"Li Na is one of my closest friends in the tennis world and I know she won the title at the Shenzhen Open in the last two years," Kvitova added. "She has told me how nice it was to play in Shenzhen."

And that leads into the news of the special guest: Li will attend the final as a guest of honor. Li will take part in the on-court coin toss before the singles final and will also spend time signing autographs for her many fans at the Shenzhen Open - the autograph session will be at the tournament village.

Li won the first two editions of the $500,000 International-level event in 2013 and 2014, beating Klara Zakopalova in the 2013 final and Peng Shuai in the 2014 final. That final against Peng was the second all-Chinese final in the history of the WTA after Zheng Jie beat Li in the 2006 Oeiras final.

The Shenzhen Open will take place Sunday, January 4 to Saturday, January 10, and offers double the prize money of regular International events. Visit www.shenzhenopentennis.com for more info.