23-time Grand Slam-winner, Serena Williams heads into this week’s Miami Open as an unseeded player after taking 13 months off to have her first child.
Naomi Osaka, a rising star who won Indian Wells on Sunday, will face Serena Williams in the first round of the Miami Open on Wednesday.
It’s a freakishly difficult way for both players to start a tournament.
“The luck of the draw,” tournament director James Blake said Monday. “It’s great in one sense — we have an unbelievable blockbuster match for Wednesday.
But one of them is going to be gone unfortunately by Thursday.”
The marquee matchup at the outset of the two-week tournament came about because neither player is seeded.
Osaka is ranked a career-best No. 22, while Williams is ranked No. 491 after becoming a mother and returning to the tour at Indian Wells following a layoff of more than a year.
Osaka, a 20-year-old slugger from Japan, earned the biggest victory her career when she beat Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-2 in the Indian Wells final.
Along with the title, she won $1.3 million, nearly doubling her career earnings.
Serena lost in the third round at Indian Wells to her sister Venus. An eight-time Key Biscayne champion, Serena enters the tournament as a wildcard and has never faced Osaka.