Former world No 1s Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams handed Cincinnati wildcards

Maria Sharapova blowing kisses

Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams will feature in the main draw of the Cincinnati Masters after receiving wildcards from tournament organisers.

The two former world No 1 players have struggled with form and injury in recent months and have slipped down the rankings with Williams now ranked No 50 in the world and Sharapova down in 82nd.

Both made first-round exits at Wimbledon earlier in July with Sharapova retiring with a shoulder problem while being 5-0 behind in the third set of her clash against Pauline Parmentier and Williams losing in straight sets against teen sensation Coco Gauff.

Sharapova, winner in Cincinnati in 2011, last competed in the Premier 5 event in 2014 while Williams’ last appearance was in 2017.

“Maria and Venus are two of the greatest champions in tennis history,” tournament director Andre Silva said. “We look forward to both joining our world class field and are eager for the tournament to get underway next weekend.”

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