The full entry list for the WTA side of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, held in Rome, has been released, with several of the biggest stars of the WTA set to be in action.
The tournament, which is set to take place from May 9-15, has 900 ranking points available for the winner and will take place on outdoor clay.
Former Champions And Finalists In Action
World number one Serena Williams, who has won the title three times, will headline the draw in Rome, with the American looking to pick up some form in the Italian capital after a surprisingly difficult start to the year. The two women who she beat in her most recent finals in Rome, Sara Errani in 2014 and Victoria Azarenka in 2013, also return. Azarenka has been one of the most in-form players this season and will be a strong contender for the title. Serena's sister, Venus Williams, who won her only Rome title in 1999, will also be in action.
The only other former champion in action will be former world number one Jelena Jankovic. The Serbian won back to back titles in 2007 and 2008, and also reached the final back in 2010, and will be looking for a strong showing on what can be a good surface for her. Svetlana Kuznetsova, who she beat in the 2007 final, and Alize Cornet, who she beat in the 2008 final, also both return.
2011 runner-up Sam Stosur is also set to be in action. The Australian hasn't had the best start to 2016 and the former French Open runner-up will be another player looking for some confidence whilst the runner-up last year, Carla Suarez Navarro, will be keen to defend her points from last year as she looks to secure a good seeding for the French Open.
More Big Stars Looking For Success
Kerber and Halep have had success on clay before, though neither have won a title as big as Rome on the surface and will be looking to make up ground on world number one Williams over the clay court period. Muguruza will see Rome and other clay court tournaments as an opportunity to build on the improvements she showed in Miami, following a below-par start to the year.
Other big stars in action include Petra Kvitova, who has never had too much success at the tournament, and Belinda Bencic, who will be looking for a strong run after a solid start to the year. Roberta Vinci will look to impress in front of her home crowd whilst the likes of Ana Ivanovic and Caroline Wozniacki will be looking to gain some confidence after erratic seasons so far. Lucie Safarova will be looking to pick up some wins as she prepares to defend finalist points in Paris.
Young Stars Looking To Make Their Mark
Alongside Bencic, several other young players will be looking for some success in Rome.
One of the most high profile of these players will be Sloane Stephens. The American has had an erratic year but has won two WTA titles, and will be looking for a run as she prepares to defend fourth round points at Roland Garros. Similarly Eugenie Bouchard has reached two finals on the tour this year and will be looking at Premier tournaments such as the one in Rome as an opportunity to continue her resurgence up the rankings.
Players such as Daria Kasatkina, Jelena Ostapenko and Margarita Gasparyan have attracted lots of attention this season, and it will be interesting to see if they can make an impact on the clay. It will also be interesting to see if the likes of Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Kristina Mladenovic can pick up their form after generally disappointing starts to the year.
Karolina Pliskova will be looking for another big result after reaching the semifinals in Indian Wells, in what has been an erratic season for her, whilst Elina Svitolina will be looking to build on a start to the season that has seen her become established in the top twenty of the rankings.
High Profile Absentees
Arguably the most high profile player not in the draw is Maria Sharapova. Currently suspended from the tour after her positive drug test for meldonium, Sharapova is a three-time champion in Rome and defeated Carla Suarez Navarro to take the title last year. Her absence will see her ranking drop further away from the top of the game.
Another noticeable player missing from the draw is Agnieszka Radwanska. The Pole, who is currently the world number two, has never performed amazingly well in Rome but it is still a surprise to she that she has not entered.
Dangerous Players Set To Make The Draw
With qualifiers set to be added into the draw and with some players likely to withdraw, it is likely many more dangerous players will be in the draw.
The first and second alternates for the draw are Yanina Wickmayer and Caroline Garcia. Both have had solid years and will be a difficult match for anyone, assuming they make the draw. Other dangerous players such as Dominika Cibulkova and Danka Kovinic also lurk near the top of the alternatives and could provide tricky matches.
This is the final big event before the second Grand Slam of the year and based on some of the interesting WTA results so far this year, it will be interesting to see who will play well in Rome before Roland Garros.