ASB Classic 2020: Serena Williams ready to play first match in four months

Serena Williams (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Serena Williams (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

After last playing in the US Open final, Serena Williams will return to the court with singles and doubles action at the ASB Classic in Auckland.

Serena Williams is ready to play her first match in four months as the ASB Classic gets under way.

The last time we saw Serena in action was on September 7, when Bianca Andreescu was celebrating with the US Open trophy after an extraordinary win over the American in the final at Flushing Meadows.

It left Serena still stuck on 23 Grand Slam titles, one short of an all-time record held by Margaret Court she remains determined to reach in 2020.

Now she begins a new season in Auckland with only two weeks to go until the first major of the year at the Australian Open, which was the last title she won back in 2017.

light. FanSided 250. Serena finally overtakes LeBron

The withdrawal of Andreescu from the tournament as the Canadian continues to recover from a knee injury promoted Serena to the top seed for the singles event.

An interesting draw set up the prospect of a first career meeting with 15-year-old Coco Gauff, who joined Serena for some epic preseason training at the end of 2019.

That will happen if the two Americans make it to the quarterfinals but they will each have to negotiate two matches to get that far.

For Serena, the first task comes against Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, who she has played 13 times before, winning on 10 of those occasions.

Djokovic says sorry for losing his cool. light. Trending

They have not played since three meetings in 2016, when Serena came out on top twice with Kuznetsova winning the other in Miami.

Kuznetsova is a two-time major winner and remains a capable force at the age of 34, so her opponent is not taking anything for granted.

Per the WTA Tour, Serena Williams said: “First of all, she’s a really good friend of mine, and second of all, she’s a really great player.

“It’s good. I like to play really tough opponents in the first round, and there’s no better way to start than to start serious. I really love her and adore her, and I wish it could’ve been a little bit later, for both of us.”

2020. Our ATP season predictions. light

Serena was in a jovial mood with reporters in New Zealand as she recalled her last trip to the tournament in 2017, which came just before that Australian Open success.

She did not know it at the time but she was pregnant. The 38-year-old admitted to being in an unusual mood on her last visit, both in her exchanges with journalists and those closest to her.

Serena has her daughter Alexis Olympia with her in New Zealand and reflected on completing that circle.

"“I’m not pregnant, as a start, so that works, so I can only do good now!“I just remember [last time] it being windy and I was angry and I was hating my now-husband. I was like, ‘I can’t stand you and I don’t know why’.“I’m in a really different frame of mind. It’s just so surreal and so crazy, looking back, I have all of these funny memories of me just being miserable in the first trimester of pregnancy, being six weeks pregnant and not knowing.“For a woman, that first trimester is tough and to not know is even tougher. So now we joke about it and I’m so happy to be here.“I always knew that I would have to come back [to Auckland], for sure. I didn’t even realize what was happening, and now I’m here with my daughter.“This is kind of where it all began. It’s amazing. It’s so exciting to be here with her, and to know that this is literally where it started.”"

The last trip not go particularly well on court either, Serena losing in the second round against Madison Brengle. The top seed and favorite this week will want to put that right.

Nadal News. Who next for Rafa at the ATP Cup?. light

Prior to her return in the singles, Serena has a doubles engagement alongside her close friend Caroline Wozniacki, who is playing the penultimate event of her career.

The star-studded pairing will face Japanese duo Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya.

Serena was delighted to arrange her partnership with Wozniacki, who is also playing in the singles tournament.

Wozniacki will retire after the Australian Open and Serena knows the WTA Tour will not be the same without her.

Serena said: “It’s definitely special to play with her in this doubles. I’m going to miss her immensely. I’m going to be an emotional wreck in Melbourne.”

Next. Serena still 'confident' on Slam record. dark

With Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Coco Gauff and many other top names in action, not least rising American star Amanda Anisimova, the ASB Classic should serve up something special.