“I’m very happy to be returning to Wuhan Open and grateful for the opportunity because it always attracts the best players and it’s an important week for women’s tennis,” Osaka said in a statement. “I know Wuhan is Li Na’s home town and she’s one of the most inspirational players to come from Asia so it’s a special tournament to be part of.”
Li Quiping, Wuhan co-Tournament Director said: “Having the World No.1 scheduled to play our tournament is always special and we know how popular Naomi is with fans all over the world, but especially across Asia. We know that there will be a big buzz around the crowd whenever she plays and we’re sure that Wuhan is going to give her a very warm welcome back.”
Osaka, who was due to play Wuhan last year but withdrew with a viral illness, will be making her second appearance at the tournament, having lost to Elise Mertens in the first round in 2017. The 2019 field also includes defending champion Aryna Sabalenka, 2014 and 2016 champion and Australian Open runner-up Petra Kvitova, WTA Finals champion Elina Svitolina, former Grand Slam winners Angelique Kerber, Garbiñe Muguruza, Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens, and former World No.1 Karolina Pliskova.