British quartet end 20-year wait

  • By: Andy Schooler
  • Last Updated: July 20 2012, 10:45 BST

For the first time in more than 20 years, four British women have qualified directly for a Grand Slam tournament.

Elena Baltacha: Scraped into the main field for the US Open

Heather Watson, Anne Keothavong, Laura Robson and Elena Baltacha were all among the main-draw field announced by US Open organisers on Thursday night.

Baltacha, now the British number four, is currently ranked 100th in the world and just made it inside the 102 cut-off point.

The last time four British women qualified entirely on their ranking was at the 1992 Australian Open.

No fewer than six former champions will be in the field for next month's tournament in New York.

Defending champion Sam Stosur will return to Flushing Meadows, while Kim Clijsters - the winner on her last three visits in 2005, 2009 and 2010 - will also compete in what is due to be the final tournament of her career.

Wimbledon champion Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova were the other former winners named among the 102 direct entries by the USTA.

World number one Victoria Azarenka heads the field - the top 102 players in the WTA rankings are all entered.

France's Virginie Razzano, who stunned Serena Williams at the French Open earlier this summer, is the last player to gain direct acceptance.

Two players will play on a protected ranking following injury problems - Agnes Szavay and Timea Bacsinszky.

Sixteen players will gain places via the qualifying tournament, while eight wild cards will be handed out.

The event takes place from August 27 to September 9.