Long-time friends Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki will play doubles together for the first time at the WTA Tour’s ASB Classic in Auckland beginning on January 6.
Former world No 1 Wozniacki has started her season in Auckland every year since 2015 and has made the hard court tournament the first stop of her short farewell tour.
The 29-year-old was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis shortly after winning the 2018 Australian Open and will retire from tennis after playing the Open in Melbourne next month.
Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam winner, has not played doubles with anyone other than her sister Venus since the Fed Cup World Group playoff in 2015 with her last WTA tournament in doubles without Venus was in 2002.
Meanwhile Wozniacki has not played doubles for more than three years.
Williams was Wozniacki’s bridesmaid at her wedding earlier this year and will play an exhibition in Copenhagen in May – Wozniacki’s final match before retirement.
“We’ve been wanting to play doubles together for a long time but it just hasn’t worked out so I’m really excited that it’s finally going to happen, especially at one of my favourite tournaments on tour,” Wozniacki said. “It’s going to be so much fun!”
Andreescu out of Auckland tournament with ‘knee issues’
However, Auckland Classic organisers have suffered a setback to their tournament line-up with US Open champion Bianca Andreescu withdrawing due to “knee issues”.
The Canadian teenager had been the top seed for the tournament, which is a traditional warm-up for players fine tuning their game ahead of the Australian Open.
“Organisers have been advised that Bianca Andreescu has had to withdraw from the upcoming event due to her ongoing knee issues,” a statement read.
“We are disappointed not to welcome Bianca back and wish her all the best for a speedy recovery.”
Andreescu came through qualifying in Auckland earlier this year only to lose to Germany’s Julia Goerges in the final, which she used as a springboard for a sensational 2019.
She won her first WTA Tour title at Indian Wells, then beat Serena Williams in the finals in Toronto and again at Flushing Meadows to clinch her first Grand Slam title.
The Auckland tournament had assembled arguably its strongest ever field with Andreescu, Williams, former Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki and 2017 French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko all confirmed.