Seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams is heading to Auckland to play in January's ASB Classic tennis tournament.
Williams and former world number one Jelena Jankovic were the names being rumoured ahead of a luncheon today where the full line-up was revealed.
Jankovic is not coming.
Williams, a former world No 1 whose ranking has down to 104 because of injury this year, is a huge coup on the back of Russian star Maria Sharapova as the second successive household name to play at the tournament.
At the age of 31, Williams’ best years are behind her, but she still has one of the finest serves in the women’s game, continues to hit the ball harder than most from the baseline and will play a big part in helping to fill up the recently refurbished ASB Tennis Centre.
Williams has enjoyed her greatest success on grass, winning Wimbledon five times between 2000 and 2008. She also won the US Open in 2000 and 2001.
Over her illustrious career she has amassed an incredible US$S38,819,262 in prize money, making her one of the richest sportswomen in the world.
In previous years Williams has chosen to play the Hong Kong Tennis Classic exhibition tournament, which took place the same week as the Auckland WTA event.
The WTA, who run the women’s game, have been trying to get rid of the lucrative exhibition events and encourage players to enter their own tournaments instead.
Next year there is no Hong Kong Tennis Classic for the first time since it began in 1999, something that probably played a part in enticing Williams to come to Auckland.
The tournament begins on Monday January 2, with the final taking place the following Saturday.