Serena Williams to play in Abu Dhabi, will defend Australian Open title

25 December, 2017, 18:59 | Author: Angelina Schmidt
  • AFP  Getty Images

Tennis champion Serena Williams will return to the court in Abu Dhabi this week after almost a year away from the sport. According to her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, Williams was doubtful for the Australian Open until last month.

Williams will return with a match against Latvia's French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, making them the first women to compete in the previously male-only event.

Ostapenko claimed her maiden Slam title at Roland Garros, and has been playing in the Hua Hin exhibition.

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The Mubadala tournament comes ahead of next month's Australian Open, where Williams is expected to defend her title.

"I am delighted to be returning to the court in Abu Dhabi for the first time since the birth of my daughter in September", Williams told the tournament's official website.

World number one Rafael Nadal has pulled out from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, the season-opening exhibition event in Abu Dhabi next week, due to lingering fitness concerns.

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The Mubadala event had already seen men's world number one Rafael Nadal and three-time Grand Slam victor Stan Wawrinka withdraw.

Traditionally a drawing ground for the world's best ATP players, the 10th edition of the tournament brings two 2017 Grand Slam champions to the court as 23-time Slam champion Williams will face Jelena Ostapenko in a special match on 30 December. The tennis icon also persuaded the fans to grab the opportunity and attend the match. On December 30, as well as 29, fans will be able watch also the 12-time Grand Slam victor Novak Djokovic, who will face Andrey Rublev or Dominic Thiem in the semifinals and then will play the third or first place final.

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