(Reuters) – Former world number one Serena Williams will begin her 2020 season with a return to the Auckland Open in January, her first appearance at the tournament since she was ousted in the second round in 2017.
The Auckland Open serves as a warm-up before the year’s first Grand Slam, the Australian Open, which begins on Jan. 20 next year.
On her last Auckland appearance, then top seed Williams hit 88 unforced errors in windy conditions, losing to compatriot Madison Brengle, who was ranked 70 rungs lower.
“Oh man, I want to win that title so bad,” Williams was quoted as saying by the tournament organizers.
“Last time I was there I had so much going on and although I fought through to win my first match, I know I didn’t play to my level.
“I have such amazing memories that are really special to me from Auckland,” she added, referring to her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian days before the 2017 tournament.
“I would really like to add some on court memories to that list.”
Williams, 37, is due to compete at the U.S. Open which begins next week but her preparations for the final Grand Slam of the year have been far from perfect with injuries limiting her time on court.
The 23-times Grand Slam champion retired from the Rogers Cup final in Toronto earlier this month because of back spasms, which led to her withdrawal from the Cincinnati Masters.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)