Tennis powerhouse Venus Williams has arrived in New Zealand.

The former world No1 touched down at Auckland International Airport tonight.

Williams - older sister of tennis pro Serena - is in the country to take part in this year's ASB Classic competition, due to start on Monday. She is the tournament's current defending champion.

The event, which regularly attracts legions of tennis fans to Auckland, ends on Saturday, January 16, after the men's tournament.

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Williams will take on Russian world No75 18-year-old Daria Kasatkina in her first match, in what commentators say is arguably the easier half of the field after the tournament draw was announced today.

The draw means Williams will avoid facing Caroline Wozniacki and American world No35 Sloane Stephens.

Serbian tennis ace Ana Ivanovic is also in the bottom half of the draw.

In last year's ASB Classic, a friendly match between Williams and two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova saw three dogs replacing regular ball boys.

Williams, in particular, seemed to enjoy the change - playing with the animals and laughing heartily each time one of them retrieved a tennis ball.