Former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova will attempt to book her place in DFS Classic history next week when she bids for a third consecutive title.
The 19-year-old yesterday announced her intention to kickstart the grass court season at the Edgbaston Priory Club, where she will endeavour to exceed the achievements of Martina Navratilova by winning the tournament three times.
Even the legendary Navratilova, who is scheduled to compete in the doubles event in Birmingham, claimed the crown only twice which means a third success for the Russian would put her only one behind all-time leader Pam Shriver.
Sharapova has dominated the competition in recent years, beating Jelena Jankovic in last summer's final and Tatiana Golovin in 2004 - just three weeks before she went on to claim the All England title aged 17.
Her participation is a massive boost to organisers of the tournament, in its jubilee 25th year, is sure to help ticket sales and completes a strong field featuring several of the world's top 20.
Sharapova leads the way at No 4 but she will face stiff opposition from Francesca Schaivone, Daniela Hantuchova and Elena Likhovtseva as well as Indian starlet Sania Mirza.
Tournament director Marjory Howie said: "I know Maria is excited to be defending her title and it will no doubt help her preparation for Wimbledon this year. We have an excellent field of players entered this year and I'm sure the title will be hotly contested."
Sharapova has failed to reach a grand slam final since her triumph at the All England Club although she reached the last four at this year's Australian Open in Melbourne but has since struggled because of an injury to her right ankle.
She was knocked out of the French Open in the fourth round last week by compatriot Dinara Safina and will spend the next few days recuperating before arriving in Birmingham at the end of the week.