MIAMI, FL, USA - Mothers on a mission Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka top the list of eight main draw wildcards announced today for next week's Miami Open.
Both former World No.1s made winning comebacks at the BNP Paribas Open this week. Williams, unranked after a 14-month hiatus in which she give birth to daughter Alexis Olympia, made it to the third round before losing to sister Venus; while Azarenka, who has been able to play only three events since returning from her own maternity leave last June, reached the second round before falling to Sloane Stephens.
Both mothers are former champions in Miami: Azarenka has lifted the trophy three times (2009, 2011 and 2016) while Williams holds the all-time record for number of victories with eight titles between 2002 and 2015. The pair contested the 2009 final, won by Azarenka 6-3, 6-1.
Also rewarded with entry into the main draw is 16-year-old Amanda Anisimova, the No.149-ranked American prodigy who caused a stir in Indian Wells by ending Petra Kvitova's 14-match winning streak to make the fourth round.
Two of Anisimova's fellow junior standouts have also been granted wildcards: 17-year-old Claire Liu, last year's Wimbledon girls' champion who also qualified for the US Open and is currently ranked No.241; and 15-year-old Whitney Osuigwe, the junior World No.1 and last year's Roland Garros girls' champion who has raised her WTA ranking to No.625 this year following her first ITF $25,000 title in Wesley Chapel.
There's also room for some high-profile veteran comebacks. A horrific knee injury sustained at Wimbledon last June has kept Bethanie Mattek-Sands, the 2016 Miami doubles champion, on the sidelines for eight months - but next week marks the 32-year-old's long-awaited return to competition.
Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic, who raised her ranking from No.930 to No.151 in 2017 following shoulder surgery the previous year, and rising 23-year-old American Bernarda Pera, who shocked Johanna Konta at the Australian Open in January, round out the main draw wildcards.
Qualifying wildcards have been granted to 17-year-old Ann Li, the runner-up to Liu at Wimbledon last year; 16-year-old Wang Xiyu, of China, the junior World No.7 who became the first player born in 2001 to win a WTA main draw match in Tianjin last year; and 17-year-old Emiliana Arango, of Colombia, the former junior World No.8 and US Open girls' semifinalist.
Beloved veteran and 2012 doubles finalist Roberta Vinci, who is due to retire in Rome in May, will bid her farewell to Miami thanks to a qualifying wildcard. Rounding out the remaining qualifying wildcards are the USA's Allie Kiick, the Czech Republic's Tereza Smitkova, Germany's Antonia Lottner and Great Britain's Katie Boulter.