Serena Williams has confirmed she will return to the ASB Classic in the new year. The 23-time Grand Slam champion will compete in Auckland as part of her preparations for the 2020 Australian Open.
The American, whose victory in Melbourne in 2017 was her seventh Australian Open crown and her most recent Grand Slam crown, will make her second appearance in the New Zealand city, having lost to Madison Brengle in 2017.
That visit three years ago was also noteworthy for Serena announcing her engagement to Alexis Ohanian from a beach on Waiheke Island. The couple were wed in November of that year.
“Oh man, I want to win that title so bad," Serena said this week. "Last time I was there I had so much going on and although I fought through, I didn’t play to my level. I have such amazing memories that are really special to me from Auckland. I would really like to add some on court memories."
The women's tournament takes place from 6 January, a week before the men's, with the Australian Open beginning on 20 January. The 2019 event in Auckland attracted a record 72,000 fans and was won by Julia Goerges, who beat Bianca Andreescu 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the final.
Karl Budge, the tournament director, also spoke of the event's excitement at the return of the American.
“We are thrilled to get Serena back," he said. "She has some unfinished business here. Serena is chasing history and Auckland will play a key role in helping her achieve it. I can’t wait to see her back out on court.”