Two-time US Open champion Venus Williams has been given a wildcard entry to participate in this year's tournament.

The 41-year-old American will be making her 23rd appearance at Flushing Meadows and a 15th in a row.

Williams, who has not missed a grand slam since Wimbledon in 2013, is one of eight wild card selections for the women's singles draw.

Former semi-finalist CoCo Vandeweghe and Emma Navarro are joined by teenagers Hailey Baptiste, Ashlyn Krueger, Caty McNally and Katie Volynets.

Storm Sanders has been awarded a reciprocal wild card in agreement with Tennis Australia.

Naomi Osaka will be looking to defend her title in New York, with the main draw scheduled to run from August 30 to September 11.

Simona Halep says she is no longer afraid of coronavirus after getting vaccinated and hopes more players will take the jab.

Halep opted against travelling to New York for the US Open last year due to the pandemic before testing positive for COVID-19 last October.

The two-time grand slam champion missed the French Open and Wimbledon this year with a torn calf muscle, but claimed her first win since May at the Western and Southern on Tuesday, beating Magda Linette 6-4 3-6 6-0.

Former world number one Halep revealed she feels much more comfortable back on the circuit after taking the vaccine.

"I don't feel afraid, because I am vaccinated," The Romanian told reporters. "I feel protected. I am taking care. I wear the mask when many people are around."

Players have faced strict protocols since the tour resumed, with the challenges of staying in biosecure bubbles and playing in empty stadiums last year before restrictions gradually eased.

Stefanos Tsitsipas this week said that he would only take the vaccine if it becomes mandatory to play on the ATP Tour after Novak Djokovic stated he hopes it will not become a requirement to take the jab.

Halep hopes fellow professionals take the vaccine so they do not face such strict protocols.

"I don't like the bubbles," Halep said. "I feel very stressed when I'm in the bubble.

"So if people can vaccinate more and more (it) will be better, because we will not have more restrictions anymore."

Simona Halep, a three-time runner up in Cincinnati, claimed her first win since May by overcoming Magda Linette 6-4 3-6 6-0.

The 12th seed has just returned from a calf muscle tear which saw her miss the French Open and Wimbledon, and was defeated by Danielle Collins in Montreal last week.

However, at 1-4 down in the second set she required medical attention for what she described as a "sharp pain" in her right leg, but after a rain delay, the Romanian came out of the blocks to claim a third-set bagel.

Halep progressed to the Round of 32 where she will play American Jessica Pegula.

Sunday's breakthrough National Bank Open winner Camila Giorgo was beaten in straight sets by Pegula 6-2 6-2.

Former world number one Victoria Azarenka needed only one hour and nine minutes to dispose of Ludmilla Samsonova and seal her spot in the last 32.

The Belarussian triumphed 6-2 6-3 over the Russian, dominating her first serve and breaking Samsonova five times throughout the match.

Tokyo 2020 gold medalist Belinda Bencic eased past Marketa Vondrousova 6-3 7-5 continuing her bright recent run, winning in one hour and 27 minutes.

In the final match of the day's play, Caroline Garcia defeated 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens 7-6 (9-7) 4-6 6-4 in two hours and 33 minutes.

Dayana Yastremska, Bernarda Pera, Karolina Muchova, Ons Jabeur, Elena Rybakina, Veronika Kudermetova and Coco Gauff were all winners too.

Petra Kvitova was one of a handful of seeded players to take the court at the Western and Southern Open on Monday and came away victorious against a past champion of the event. 

The 11th-seeded Kvitova defeated 2019 Western and Southern winner Madison Keys 7-5 6-4 on a rain-plagued opening day of main-draw play at the tournament outside Cincinnati, Ohio. 

The Czech saved eight of nine break points against her serve while breaking Keys three times, and that was enough to pull out the victory. 

Kvitova's countrywoman Barbora Krejcikova, the ninth seed, made her singles debut at the WTA 1000 event with a 6-3 6-2 rout of Daria Kasatkina. 

Fifteenth seed Elise Mertens also was a straight-sets winner, taking down Nadia Podoroska 6-3 6-4, while 13th seed Jennifer Brady defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3 7-6 (7-3) in a match that finished shortly before 1 a.m. local time.

Though only Krejcikova was in action Monday, the field in Cincinnati includes nine of the top 10 players in the rankings, led by Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka in their first appearances since the Tokyo Olympics. 

In other matches on the first day of play, Heather Watson defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 3-6 6-1, while Paula Badosa outlasted Petra Martic 4-6 6-4 7-6 (11-9) in a two-hour, 34-minute marathon. 

Yulia Putintseva breezed past Zhang Shuai 6-2 6-0, Jelena Ostapenko beat Tamara Zidansek 7-5 6-1 and Jil Teichmann downed Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-0. 

Angelique Kerber beat Maria Sakkari 6-2 6-2, with Alison Riske matching that scoreline in a defeat of Leylah Fernandez.

Shelby Rogers won 6-4 2-1 when her countrywoman Danielle Collins retired with an injury. 

Naomi Osaka was reduced to tears on Monday in her first WTA Tour news conference since snubbing the media at the French Open.

Osaka withdrew from the second grand slam of the year at Roland Garros almost three months ago after declaring she would not fulfil press conference duties during the tournament.

The four-time major champion cited mental health concerns for reaching that decision and skipped Wimbledon before returning to action at the Tokyo Olympics on home soil.

Osaka, who revealed in Paris she had suffered "long bouts of depression" since winning the US Open in 2018, agreed to speak to the press as she prepares return to the WTA Tour at the Western and Southern in Cincinnati this week.

The world number two was emotional after being asked how she benefits from a high-media profile but does not like talking to media.

Osaka answered the question from the journalist, but the video call was paused as she cried before later resuming the press conference.

She said before pausing: "That's interesting: I would say the occasion, when to do the press conferences is what I feel is the most difficult.

"I'm actually very interested in that point of view. For me I feel this is something I can't really speak for everybody, I can only speak for myself.

"But ever since I was younger, I've had a lot of media interest on me, and I think it's because of my background as well as how I play.

"Because in the first place I'm a tennis player, which is why a lot of people are interested in me. So I would say in that regard I'm quite different to a lot of people, and I can't really help that there are some things I tweet or say that create a lot of news articles or things like that.

"But I would also say, I'm not really sure how to balance it too, I'm figuring it out at the same time as you are, I would say."

Osaka then broke down while the next question was being put to her, but was able to continue.

The 23-year-old was given a first-round bye in what will be her first WTA tournament since the French Open.

 

Unseeded Camila Giorgi again surprised Karolina Pliskova as she earned a straight-sets win in Sunday's National Bank Open final to claim the third singles title of her career.

The world number 71 defeated Pliskova at the Viking International and the Tokyo Olympics in the past three months and prevailed 6-3 7-5 in their latest meeting in Montreal.

Giorgi, who had never previously won a trophy above 250 level or on outdoor hard courts, has now triumphed in 16 of her last 20 matches in an impressive 2021 campaign.

She lost just one set all week and will move back into the world's top 35 for the first time since May 2019 with this first tournament victory since the Linz Open in October 2018.

 

Fourth seed Pliskova eliminated favourite Aryna Sabalenka in the semi-finals but could not replicate that performance as she fell at the final hurdle in a tournament for the third time this year.

Giorgi broke the former world number one for the first time in a lengthy fifth game and took the first set when Pliskova double faulted and sent a forehand wide in the final game.

Pliskova double faulted six times across the match, which lasted one hour and 40 minutes, including in the fourth game of the second set to put her opponent in complete control.

The Czech was given hope when earning her first break of serve in the following game, but she was let down by some forehand errors in the 12th game and Giorgi took her second championship point to seal an emotional win.

Karolina Pliskova will face unseeded Italian Camila Giorgi in the National Bank Open final after beating top seed Aryna Sabalenka in the last four.

An intriguing semi-final pitted two of the favourites against one another in Montreal and it was Pliskova, the fourth seed, who came out on top 6-3 6-4.

The Wimbledon finalist broke early in the first and then clinched the set on Sabalenka's serve, too, although she was made to work a little harder in the second.

Pliskova fell behind in the seventh game, but she responded by winning three straight games to wrap up victory.

"It's an amazing feeling to be in another final this year," Pliskova said.

"I think I was super solid today. I just did everything what I was supposed to do to win this match, played smart.

"My serve was pretty good, I have to say."

Indeed, the Czech landed 71 per cent of her first serves in – with 10 aces to two double faults – helping her to win 69 per cent of her service points.

World number 71 Giorgi progressed to the decider with a three-set win over Jessica Pegula in two hours and 11 minutes.

The 6-3 3-6 6-1 win means the Italian qualified for her first career WTA 1000 final.

Giorgi had toppled seventh seed Petra Kvitova, ninth seed Elise Mertens and 15th seed Cori Gauff on her route to the decider.

Top seed Aryna Sabalenka and fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova set up a tantalising semi-final clash with straight-set wins Friday at the National Bank Open. 

Sabalenka had little trouble with fellow Belarusian Victoria Azarenka in a 6-2 6-4 victory in Montreal, firing seven aces and winning 74.3 per cent of points on her first serve. 

It was Sabalenka's 38th win this season, the most of any WTA player. Another triumph on Saturday would vault world number three Sabalenka past Naomi Osaka and into second in the rankings next week. 

To achieve that, she will have to defeat the only other seeded player remaining in Pliskova as the two stage a rematch of their Wimbledon semi-final won by the Czech.

The world number six downed Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain 6-4 6-0 to reach the semis for the first time in six trips to the Canadian tournament. 

While Pliskova twice failed to hold her serve in the opening set, she converted all three of her own break point chances before going on to dominate the second set. 

The other semi-final will feature a pair of unseeded players. 

Italy's Camila Giorgi continued her run of upsets in the tournament, knocking out 15th seed Coco Gauff 6-4 7-6 (7-2). 

In the last quarter-final of the day, Jessica Pegula took down 13th seed Ons Jabeur 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-0 in a match of wild momentum swings. 

Pegula went the distance for the fourth consecutive match in Montreal, though at one hour, 28 minutes Friday's affair was a full hour shorter than her round of 16 epic with Danielle Collins. 

 

Local hope and reigning champion Bianca Andreescu blew an early lead as she was toppled by Ons Jabeur in the Round of 16 at the National Bank Open in Montreal.

Tunisian 13th seed Jabeur defeated the Canadian second seed 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-1 in two hours and 39 minutes on Thursday.

The come-from-behind triumph was the second time in two matches that the Tunisian has rallied from a set down to win after beating Daria Kasatkina in three.

Jabeur had twice been a break up in the opening set before Andreescu claimed it in an tiebreak.

The 26-year-old Tunisian, who made the Wimbledon quarter-finals this year, responded by breaking at 5-4 to win the second set.

After Andreescu had an injury scare after landing awkwardly on her left foot late in the second set, Jabeur dominated the third, finishing by winning eight of the final nine games.

Jabeur finished with 9-3 aces and was more effective on serve, going at an 81.6 win percentage on her first serve (40 from 49 points).

The lower side of the draw has opened up for the Tunisian who will face Jessica Pegula in the quarter-finals after the unseeded American defeated countrywoman Danielle Collins 6-4 3-6 7-5.

Two-time Wimbledon champion and seventh seed Petra Kvitova was knocked out in a shock by Italian Camila Giorgi in straight sets.

Giorgi, ranked 71st in the world, won 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 36 minutes and will face Cori Gauff in the quarter-finals after she had another walkover against Johanna Konta.

Top seed Aryna Sabalenka had no such problems, cruising past Canadian Rebecca Marino 6-1 6-3 inside an hour.

Sabalenka sets up a quarter-final clash with fellow Belarussian and two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka.

Azarenka got past Greek 11th seed Maria Sakkari in three sets, 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-2).

Fourth seed Karolina Pliskova got past Amanda Anisimova 6-1 7-6 (10-8) and will play Sara Sorribes Tormo in the last eight after she won in three sets over Katerina Siniakova.

Two-time Grand Slam winner Simona Halep's return to the WTA Tour ended in defeat to American Danielle Collins in almost three hours in the National Bank Open in Montreal on Wednesday.

World number 28 Collins triumphed 2-6 6-4 6-4 over the sixth seed Romanian, with the second-round match lasting two hours and 55 minutes.

Halep, who is a two-time winner in Montreal, was returning to the Tour for the first time in three months since suffering a calf tear against Angelique Kerber in Rome.

Collins, who has won titles recently in San Jose and Palermo, loomed as a tough first-up test for Halep, who broke twice to win the first set 6-2 as she generated eight break points to one.

The game turned from then on, as Collins sent down 4-1 aces in the second set and finished with 38 winners for the match.

Tokyo 2020 bronze medalist and third seed Elina Svitolina was bundled out in a second-round shock, losing 3-6 6-3 6-2 to Briton Johanna Konta.

Svitolina boasted a 5-0 record against Konta heading into the match but was beaten in a two-hour-and-11-minute struggle.

Top seed Aryna Sabalenka defeated former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens in three sets to secure her third-round spot.

Sabalenka fought back from the brink, rallying to win the last five games and triumph 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 6-4 over the American wildcard in a two hours and 25 minutes.

Fourth seed Karolina Pliskova came from behind to win 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-2) over Donna Vekic, while Jessica Pegula also fought back after a slow start to topple 10th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 1-6 6-3 6-2.

Greek 11th seed Maria Sakkari won in three sets 6-4 6-7 6-4 over Veronika Kudermetova, while 13th seed Ons Jabeur responded after a lopsided first set to win 2-6 6-3 6-4 over Daria Kasatkina.

Cori Gauff progressed after being 5-0 up as Anastasia Potapova retired, while Amanda Anisimova, Camila Giorgi, Rebecca Marino and Sara Sorribes Tormo all won too.

Canadian local hope Marino will take on top seed Sabalenka, while Gauff faces Svitolina's conqueror Konta.

Crowd favourite Bianca Andreescu was made to work as she opened her defence of the National Bank Open title she won two years ago but the Canadian eventually prevailed in Montreal. 

Andreescu defeated Harriet Dart 6-1 3-6 6-3 in just over two hours in her first match since falling to Alize Cornet in the opening around at Wimbledon. 

That was the latest in a disappointing string of results for Andreescu, who also departed Roland Garros after one match, but the world number eight got back on track Tuesday. 

"Playing at home is so, so awesome," Andreescu said in her on-court interview. "You guys [the fans] show me so much love, especially tonight. I've never had this kind of support before, so I'm so, so grateful."

While Andreescu was able to navigate a challenging opener, three other seeded players were not as fortunate. 

Katerina Siniakova downed fifth seed Garbine Muguruza 6-2 0-6 6-3, while Camila Giorgi ousted ninth seed Elise Mertens 6-3 7-5 and Liudmila Samsonova defeated 12th seed Elena Rybakina 6-4 5-7 6-4.

Having a better time of it were seventh-seeded Petra Kvitova, the 2012 tournament champion, and number 10 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who won by identical 6-4 6-4 scorelines against Frenchwomen Fiona Ferro and Carolina Garcia, respectively. 

Eighth-seeded Victoria Azarenka waited out a rain delay to cruise past 2013 finalist Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-2 in the final match of the day. 

In other action, 15th seed Coco Gauff handled Anastasija Sevastova 6-1 6-4 while her countrywoman Danielle Collins continued rolling after her title in San Jose last week, rallying past Jil Teichmann 4-6 6-1 6-3 for her 11th consecutive match win. 

Two more Americans, Sloane Stephens and Jessica Pegula, prevailed in three sets as well. 

Johanna Konta returned to the court after missing Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics due to coronavirus-related issues and advanced when Zhang Shuai was forced to retire up 6-4 2-5 with a leg injury. 

Karolina Muchova was a casualty in the first round of the National Bank Open as she was stunned by Oceane Dodin in Montreal on Monday.

The 14th seed was undone by the French qualifier despite Dodin sending down 10 double faults.

The 6-3 1-6 6-2 success was Dodin's first over a top-25 player this season.

Former U.S. Open finalists and 16th seed Madison Keys was also a first-round casualty, going down 6-3 6-3 to Canadian Rebecca Marino.

Toronto-born Marino, currently ranked 220th in the world, won in one hour and six minutes, converting four of her eight break points, while she saved four from five too.

However, there were no such problems for Ons Jabeur, the 13th seed strolling to a 6-1 6-3 victory over Clara Burel.

Eleventh seed Maria Sakkari also had a routine day, her opponent Marie Bouzkova unable to continue with Sakkari ahead 6-4 3-1.

An Olympic gold medallist in the doubles at Tokyo 2020, Katerina Siniakova had more to celebrate in the singles with a 6-1 6-3 win over long-time rival Jelena Ostapenko.

Elsewhere in the draw, Paula Badosa, Sorana Cirstea, Amanda Anisimova, Nadia Podoroska and Fiona Ferro all progressed.

With summer's main events about to begin, no one on the WTA tour is hotter than Danielle Collins. 

Two weeks after winning her maiden title in Palermo, Collins claimed the Silicon Valley Classic crown in San Jose, California by defeating Daria Kasatkina 6-3 6-7 (10-12) 6-1 on Sunday.

It was the 10th successive match victory for the American, who is ranked 36th in the world and poised to move up as the hard-court season intensifies with WTA 1000 events at Montreal and Cincinnati ahead of the U.S. Open. 

While it appeared for a while that Collins would cruise to another easy win, Kasatkina made it a fight in the 73-minute second set. 

The Russian had prevailed in the two previous meetings between the players, and she saved two championship points down 4-5 in the second and three more in winning the tiebreak. 

That marked only the second set Collins has dropped during her 10-match run, the other coming against Sloane Stephens in the second round earlier this week. 

Kasatkina's momentum was short-lived, however, as Collins broke her serve early in the third and never looked back.

Before her clay-court title run at Palermo, Collins had been 0-6 in semi-finals in her career. 

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