BIRMINGHAM, UK - World No.1 and current Australian and US Open champion Naomi Osaka will join the player field at this year's Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham in June.
Having claimed the last two Grand Slams back-to-back, including defeating Serena Williams in New York last summer, 21-year-old Osaka, from Japan, has become one of the most exciting young stars in tennis.
She will be returning to Birmingham for the fourth successive year, with her best prior performances being second-round showings in 2017 and 2018.
Osaka will headline one of the strongest player line-ups in the Nature Valley Classic's 38-year history and will compete alongside defending champion Petra Kvitova, whom she defeated in an inspiring final in Australia earlier this year, and British No.1 Johanna Konta.
Kvitova is currently ranked No.2 after winning her second title of the year on Sunday at the WTA Premier Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart.
If Osaka can hold on to the No.1 ranking then she could make history in Birmingham by becoming the first player to compete in Birmingham while ranked at the top of the WTA standings.
The Nature Valley Classic takes place from June 15-23 at the Edgbaston Priory Club. As a WTA Premier-level event it is the leading women's-only professional tennis event held in UK outside of Wimbledon.
It has a unique place in the history of sport in the Midlands and has previously been won by tennis stars such as Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Maria Sharapova, Angelique Kerber and, in the last two years, Petra Kvitova.
Speaking ahead of the Nature Valley Classic, Osaka said: "I'm excited to come back to Birmingham. I enjoy the challenge of playing on grass and I've had some great matches and results on it, so this year should be fun. British crowds are great to play in front of so I'm looking forward to it."
Tournament Director for the LTA Nature Valley Classic Patrick Hughesman said: "Naomi is one of the young superstars of our sport and is a fantastic role model to inspire a new generation to take up tennis.
"There will be a huge buzz around the tournament this year, with an amazing line-up of players and great entertainment on court and around the grounds. We want as many people as possible to come and be part of it."
To purchase tickets or to access more information about the Nature Valley Classic, head to www.lta.org.uk/