SYDNEY, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- The first wildcard picks were announced on Wednesday for the upcoming Australian Open (AO) to be held in Melbourne Park in January 2022.
AO Director Craig Tiley revealed that Eight-time Grand Slam champion Sam Stosur, Daria Saville, Maddison Inglis and Storm Sanders were all among the initial picks.
A total of eight men and eight women, who did not automatically qualify through rankings, will be brought in as wildcards in the singles portion of the tournament. Their entrance is granted at the discretion of a special selection panel.
Among the selectees was a local favorite, world no.140, Maddison Inglis, 23, who will make her third appearance in the main draw of the AO.
"I'm really, really excited," said Inglis. "It's my favorite tournament of the whole year ... so I can't wait."
"I've had 10 months off and was working really hard to get back, so I'm really excited to have a chance and the opportunity to play in the main draw of the Australian Open," said Saville.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Tiley also announced that a small number of players would be granted vaccination exemptions.
"Everyone who is coming in is vaccinated and there will be a small percentage - a very small percentage - that will have a medical exemption," said Tiley.
Previously the government of Victoria, the Australian state where the tournament is to be held, stated that vaccines would be mandatory for the first Grand Slam of 2022.
Tiley also announced that all tennis players would be staying in Melbourne's Crown Towers during the tournament, which would be an effective bubble from the public.
While the Australian Open in 2021 went ahead with limited spectators, Tiley said the organization had "zero expectation of a cap on crowds" next month.
"If there's a position [where] we have to limit numbers, we'll respond accordingly," he said.
The Australian Open 2022 will take place from January 17 to 30. Enditem