The world’s top female tennis players came together on Friday prior to the BNP Paribas WTA Finals in Singapore. Serena Williams was not at the Official Draw Ceremony as she has opted out of playing in the tournament. Simona Halep, Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Flavia Pennetta are in a formidable looking Red Group.
Top seed Simona Halep was pooled with Grand Slam winners Maria Sharapova and Flavia Pennetta in a formidable looking Red Group for the end-of-season WTA Finals on Friday.
With world No 1 and defending champion Serena Williams opting out after narrowly missing out on a rare calendar Grand Slam, Halep is the highest seed for the eight woman end-of-season championships which begins on Sunday.
Halep, who lost to Williams in the final last year after beating the American in the pool stage, was drawn against Italian Pennetta, who lifted a shock US Open title after compatriot Roberta Vinci beat Williams in the last four.
Sharapova (centre) answers a question during the Official Draw Ceremony prior to the end-of-season WTA Finals in Singapore
(From left to right) Pennetta, Radwanska, Sharapova, Halep, WTA President Micky Lawler, Muguruza, Kvitova, Kerber
The 28-year-old retired with forearm pain at the China Open last month, after a leg strain kept her out of the sport following her 6-2, 6-4 loss to Serena Williams in the Wimbledon semi-finals on July 9.
But Sharapova has now admitted, ‘I had a bit of a roadblock in China but towards the end of the season, it’s no surprise that injuries come up here and there… You have to take care of your body.’
‘I haven’t played long, it’s not convenient but I’m healthy now,’ she added.
‘I spent the last few weeks healing up, and I came out here early to acclimatise. I had a consistent first half of the year and now it’s the chance for me to get the last few months going.’
The BNP Paribas WTA Finals has been played since 1972 and has been staged in such noteworthy locations as Boca Raton, Los Angeles, New York City, Oakland, Munich, Madrid, Doha and Istanbul.
The WTA’s season finale, to be held in Singapore from 2014 to 2018, is yet another example of the WTA’s huge presence in Asia.
Serena Williams has won the last three singles tournaments in the competition, and so her absence is sure to delight her counterparts.
Kvitova shares a joke with Radwanska (centre) as they walk away from the Old Supreme Court Building in Singapore