28 Sep 2016

Serena Williams to star in NZ

4:55 pm on 28 September 2016

World number two and 22-time grand slam champion Serena Williams will headline Auckland's ASB Tennis Classic in January.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams and ASB Classic trophy Photo: Photosport

The former world number one was announced as a competitor by ASB Classic officials this morning to compete in next year's tournament.

Williams, currently ranked at number two in the world, will be the highest ranked player ever to compete at the Auckland tournament which has attracted stars such as Venus Williams, Carolina Wozniacki and Rafael Nadal in the past.

ASB Classic organisers said they believed the American player's participation would make this the biggest event in the tournament's history.

"We are obviously over the moon with this news. Serena is one of the biggest sporting stars on the planet. She has had the most Grand Slam victories, most consecutive weeks at number one and has twice held all four Grand Slam trophies at once. I think she is the greatest player, man or woman, to play the game," said Tournament Director Karl Budge.

"To have an athlete of Serena's calibre come to Auckland is going to be huge for New Zealand and really cements the ASB Classic as our biggest annual sporting event," Budge continued.

Williams said she was thrilled to be making her Auckland debut. "I am really excited to be coming to Auckland for the first time. I have heard so many great things about the city and the tournament."

Williams most recent grand slam was the Wimbledon title she won earlier this year, where she beat current world number one, Germany's Angelique Kerber, in straight sets.

2016 Wimbledon champion Serena Williams.

Serena Williams. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

She was now level with Steffi Graf's record for Grand Slam titles won in the Open era.

Next year's rendition ASB Classic runs from 2 to 14 January with the women's tournament starting first from 2 to 7 January and the men's tournament from 9 to 14 January.

Sloane Stephens and Roberto Bautista Agut won this year's women's and men's tournaments respectively.

-RNZ

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