Three of top 25 players are in action this week, as the tour heads to another pair of international events, starting with the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup in Istanbul on July 20.
Venus Williams headlines at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup, a hardcourt event in its second year back on the WTA calendar. Williams was the tournament’s very first winner in its first incarnation as a clay court event 10 years ago.
She launched her campaign with a friendly game against Çağla Büyükakçay and İpek Soylu on the Bosphorus Bridge, causing a little frustration from the traffic-ridden citizens of the city, which already suffers from a busy line between the European and Asian sides of Istanbul.
Berfu Cengiz, Ayla Aksu and Melis Sezer are the other Turkish players at the tournament.
The $250,000 total prize Istanbul clash will offer $43,000 to the winner.
The final singles and doubles games of the tournament are scheduled for July 26.
“Tennis is not the most popular sport in Turkey but it will get more popular,” Williams said during a press conference on July 20, before the event.
The No. 1 seed in Istanbul, Williams will begin her campaign against an as-of-yet undetermined qualifier.
Two other top 25 players will join Williams, including the world No. 15, rising WTA star Elina Svitolina, and the former world No. 1, Jelena Jankovic, the No. 3 seed.
Both players are coming off Grand Slam breakthroughs - Svitolina reached the first Grand Slam quarterfinal of her career at Roland Garros, while Jankovic got her biggest win at a Slam at Wimbledon, ousting then-world No.2 Petra Kvitova.
Rounding out the seeds are Alizé Cornet, Camila Giorgi, Daria Gavrilova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Tsvetana Pironkova. A slew of former top 20 players are also in the draw: Daniela Hantuchova, Yanina Wickmayer, Kirsten Flipkens, Francesca Schiavone, Dominika Cibulkova and Roberta Vinci.
Buyukakçay, who was matched with Hantuchova in the first round, said it is going to be a tough match-up, but there are no easy opponents in this tournament.
“It is going to be a hard match in the first round; Hantuchova is a very experienced opponent,” she said.