Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep set for Madrid Open, but no Serena Williams on entry list

Ashleigh Barty serving

Serena Williams is the big name missing from an excellent 2021 Madrid Open entry list with world No 1 Ashleigh Barty, reigning Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka and former Madrid winner Simona Halep all in the field.

The clay-court WTA 1000 tournament returns this year after falling victim to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and it will feature a quality field.

Both Barty and Osaka are set to make only their third appearances at the red-dirt event with their best performances coming in 2019 when they exited at the quarter-final stage.

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World No 3 Halep, though, has an excellent track record at the WTA 1000 tournament as she is a two-time winner having won back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017 while she also finished runner-up to Kiki Bertens in 2019.

After being sidelined for several months following surgery on her Achilles, world No 10 Bertens will return to defend her title. The Dutchwoman missed the Australian Open and only returned to action at the Qatar Open in March after undergoing an operation in October last year.

Former Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin, Elina Svitolina, Bianca Andreescu and Aryna Sabalenka are also in the field, but 23-time Grand Slam winner Williams is absent.

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Williams has not played any competitive tennis since the Australian Open, but her absence from the Madrid Open is hardly a surprise given tournament director Ion Țiriac’s controversial comments about her at the start of the year.

Țiriac was quoted as saying “At this age and the weight she is now, she does not move as easily as he did 15 years ago”, which prompted criticism from Williams’ husband.

Alexis Ohanian wrote on Twitter: “Safe to say no one gives a damn what Ion Țiriac thinks.”

Three-time Madrid Open winner Petra Kvitova, two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza and reigning French Open champion Iga Swiatek are also in this year’s line-up.

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