INDIAN WELLS, Calif.- - The 45th annual BNP Paribas Open got underway today, bringing many of the world's top tennis players to Indian Wells.
Women's main draw play will begin Wednesday and men's main draw play Thursday. The seeded female and male players receive first-round byes in the 96-player draws. The seeded women players will.
While daily tickets remain available at bnpparibasopen.com/tickets/, admission is free today for women's qualifying play at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and Tuesday for the conclusion of women's qualifying play and the start of men's qualifying play.
Women's main draw play will begin Wednesday and men's main draw play Thursday. The seeded female and male players receive first-round byes in the 96-player draws. The seeded women players will begin play Friday and the seeded men on Saturday.
Portions of the tournament will be broadcast live on Tennis Channel and ESPN.
The tournament boasts plenty of star talent, including Serena Williams, who returns to the court following the birth of her daughter Olympia last year, arriving in the desert in celebratory fashion after husband Alexis Ohanian took out billboards in Palm Springs declaring her the ``Greatest Momma of All Time."
Williams will try to become the first woman to ever win three singles titles at the tournament.
Maria Sharapova returns to the desert for the first time since 2015. She was sidelined from the event in 2016 because of a forearm injury and in 2017 by a suspension for testing positive for a banned drug.
Sharapova will be playing for the first time since a first-round loss to Romanian Monica Niculescu at last month's Qatar Open.
Last year's winners Roger Federer and Elena Vesnina will be back to defend their titles and a mural depicting the champions will be unveiled during the first week of the tournament.
Federer and Novak Djokovic each seek their sixth tournament title, while Vesnina will be defending her title against several past champions, including Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki.
The men's field will be without three-time tournament champion Rafael Nadal who was forced out of the tournament to recover from a lingering right hip injury and announced his withdrawal Friday. Nadal sustained the injury at the Australian Open in January, forcing him to also withdraw from the Mexican Open in Acapulco and the upcoming Miami Open.
"It was very painful to retire from Acapulco and it's very hard as well to not play in the USA,'' Nadal wrote in a Facebook post. "I will miss you and I will do everything that's possible to be back there in 2019. Thank you.''
The Indian Wells Tennis Garden has undergone what tournament organizers called a "full-scale beautification project." Improvements include the addition of 62 palm trees, floral installations, two fountains and additional greenery. The additions build upon last year's major renovations that resulted in numerous additions and overhauls to Stadium 1.
Noticias en español: Telemundo 15