Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens to headline Top Seed Open in August

hannahwilks in Lexington Open 22 Jul 2020
Serena Williams will return to competition at the new WTA event in Lexington, Kentucky from 10 August (Credit Image: © Lev Radin/Pacific Press via ZUMA Wire)

The legendary Serena Williams and fellow US Open champion Sloane Stephens will lead the field at the new WTA Top Seed Open tournament.

The Top Seed Open is a new hard-court tournament which begins on 10 August, to be played in Lexington, Kentucky, USA. It’s the first WTA tournament to be played in the USA since the sport was abruptly shut down in early March due to the global health crisis.

The WTA resumes with the Palermo Ladies Open, beginning 3 August, with Simona Halep and a slew of top-20 players already confirmed to play the European clay-court event.

The new tournament, officially known as the Top Seed Open presented by Bluegrass Orthopaedics, announced on Thursday that Williams was joining the field.

It will be the first event Williams has played since she represented the USA in a Fed Cup tie against Latvia on home soil in early February, beating Jelena Ostapenko but losing to Anastasija Sevastova.

Williams is one of the few players to have publicly committed to playing the US Open, which is planned to take place behind closed doors and with safety protocols observed in New York from 31 August-13 September.

The six-time champion said she ‘really cannot wait’ to compete at the US Open, where she has finished runner-up for the past two years, losing in the final to Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu respectively.

Williams is chasing a 24th Grand Slam title, which would tie the all-time record held by Margaret Court. She already holds the record for most Open Era major titles.

The build-up to the US Open traditionally sees back-to-back WTA Premier-5 tournaments played in Canada and Cincinnati, but the Rogers Cup has been cancelled due to the global health crisis and the Western & Southern Open has been moved from Cincinnati and will now be played behind closed doors in New York the week before the US Open.

The Top Seed Open also announced that Sloane Stephens will be competing at the Top Seed Open. Stephens has ranked as high as world no. 3, and stunned the tennis world in 2017 when she returned from a lengthy injury hiatus to win the US Open, defeating Madison Keys in an all-American final.


Recently Stephens has been playing World Team Tennis and competed in an exhibition event in Charleston in June.

The two big names publicly committing to play is a boost for the new Top Seed Open, while uncertainty continues to swirl around the planned resumption of tennis in August. While tournament organizers in Europe seem confident – the French Open, which will be held from 27 September-11 October, is planning to allow spectators, and the Mutua Madrid Open is ‘very confident’ it will be able to do the same thing when it takes place from 13-20 September – players seem a lot less comfortable about the prospect of travelling to the USA to compete. The USA has been the worst-hit nation in the world by the COVID-19 virus with over 3.5 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 138,000 deaths, and numbers of new cases continue to climb. Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and Angelique Kerber have all expressed doubts, while Rafael Nadal’s decision to commit to playing the Madrid Masters – and he has recently been pictured practicing on clay – suggests he won’t be making the trip.