CHICAGO, IL, USA - The 2018-19 Oracle Challenger Series is due to kick off with a brand new WTA 125K event in Chicago to be held between September 2-9, and its field has been strengthened with the additions of Olympic gold medallist Monica Puig and rising Americans Sachia Vickery and Jennifer Brady to the main draw.
The Puerto Rican's giant-killing run to the Olympic gold captured the imagination of fans at home and worldwide two years ago in Rio de Janeiro, while Vickery's Wakanda salute celebration also went viral after a career-best win over Garbiñe Muguruza in Indian Wells this year. Brady enjoyed a breakthrough in 2017, a year in which she reached the second week at both the Australian and US Opens. Also signed up for the main draw are former World No.24 Christina McHale and Petra Martic, whose resurgent comeback from injury last year saw the Croatian return to the Top 50 for the first time in half a decade.
Taking place during the second week of the US Open, the Chicago tournament will be the first in a series of WTA 125K events leading up to the 2019 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. The American garnering the highest points total from the series will be rewarded with a main draw wildcard into Indian Wells; this year, the recipient was Danielle Collins, who made stellar use of her opportunity to reach the fourth round and subsequently soar into the Top 50, where she currently sits at a career high ranking of No.35.
The tournament will be held at the XS Tennis Village, the center at the heart of the XS Tennis and Education Foundation, the project founded by Sloane Stephens' coach Kamau Murray to give opportunities to Chicago's underprivileged youth. It will be the first professional women's tennis tournament in the city since 1997, when Lindsay Davenport defeated Nathalie Tauziat to win the final edition of the Ameritech Cup.
Joining Puig, Vickery, Brady and former World No.24 Christina McHale in Chicago will be two-time Grand Slam finalist Vera Zvonareva, former World No.5 Eugenie Bouchard, rising American 19-year-old Caroline Dolehide and three-time WTA titlist Heather Watson, all of whom will compete in the qualifying rounds of the event.