BIRMINGHAM, Great Britain -- Three top WTA stars will get their grass game into gear at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham in 2019, as Petra Kvitova, Madison Keys, and Johanna Konta will all contest the first Premier-level grass-court event of the season.
The LTA announced on Friday that two-time defending champion Kvitova and 2016 Birmingham champion Keys will join British No.1 Konta at the prestigious tournament, which will take place the week of June 17th.
Kvitova hoisted the trophy in 2017 and 2018 and seeks to become the second player in the tournament’s 37-year history to win it at least three times, after Pam Shriver, who won the title from 1984 through 1987. By winning the title last year, the Czech earned her fifth singles championship of 2018, which was the WTA-leading total.
World No.3 and two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova has had a stellar start to the 2019 season, winning the Sydney International title, reaching the Australian Open final, and currently holding the No.1 position on the Porsche Race to Shenzhen.
"Birmingham is one of the events on the calendar that I look forward to the most," said Kvitova, speaking ahead of the LTA Nature Valley Classic. "I have beautiful memories from winning the title the past two years. The tournament has a special atmosphere and makes the players feel so welcome. It will be amazing to be back there this summer."
Keys, like Kvitova, is one of the 16 different singles champions on the WTA so far this season. Last week, the 14th-ranked American claimed her first title since 2017 on the green-clay courts of Charleston at the Volvo Car Open. Keys's 2016 triumph at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham was her second grass-court title, after winning in Eastbourne in 2014 for her first-ever WTA singles title.
"Birmingham is such a wonderful event and I have some great memories of playing and winning there," said Keys. "It's the perfect place to compete ahead of Wimbledon, especially as it always has such a strong line-up of top players which means that you know you're going up against some of the best players in the world. I'm really looking forward to getting back on the grass there."
Former World No.4 Konta, who will lead Great Britain’s Fed Cup team later this month, has committed to playing all three of the LTA’s marquee grass-court events in the run-up to Wimbledon. As well as competing at the LTA’s Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham, Konta will also play at the LTA’s Nature Valley Open in Nottingham and the LTA’s Nature Valley International in Eastbourne.
“The LTA has been hosting world class women’s sport in Birmingham for 37 years now and the event gets bigger and better each year," said Patrick Hughesman, Tournament Director for the LTA Nature Valley Classic. "The LTA’s mission is to open tennis up and providing local people with an opportunity to watch top level tennis on their doorstep plays a big part in that.”
A full list of players entered for this year’s Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham will be released on the week of May 6th.