January's ASB Classic in Auckland will be the hottest ticket in town this summer with the inclusion of sporting superstar Serena Williams.

Not since Tiger Woods played the New Zealand Golf Open in 2002 has an athlete with such global recognition and success, played here.

Before this morning's announcement there were 14 corporate boxes available for the ASB Classic women's tournament. 10 minutes after the announcement organisers had already received dozens more enquires.

There is no bigger name in women's sport and at 35 years old, Serena Williams is still very much in her prime. On court her game is brutal; she's powerful, ruthless and driven.


Radio Sport's Matt Brown talks about Serena Williams' inclusion in the ASB Classic:

22 Grand Slam singles titles, Serena shares the Open era record with the great Steffi Graf. Most days she is nearly unbeatable, with the best serve in women's tennis, a bone crushing forehand, players struggle to live with her.

The tournament starts on January the second, traditionally a time when Aucklanders escape the city, I suspect more than a few will change travel plans for the chance to watch Serena Williams in action.

Like her sister Venus, Serena has tremendous fighting qualities and it's those qualities fans will hope to see in Auckland this summer. While Williams is injury prone and has been known to pull out of big events at short notice, she usually fires at the start of the year, and will need match play before the Australian Open. Her defeat by Angelique Kerber in an epic final at Melbourne Park in January will only motivate her to make amends.

The ASB Classic has always batted above its weight. It's a small tournament that lives in the shadows of the Brisbane International with four times the prize money, a tournament with double the prize money in Shenzen China, and the popular Hopman Cup mixed team's event in Perth.

But over the years it's attracted the likes of Lindsay Davenport and Maria Sharapova in the day's before Karl Budge became tournament director. However Budge with a background working at Tennis Australia and for the WTA tour has pushed the right buttons with players and agents and has taken the tournament to new heights. Noone thought the ASB Classic could match the lineup this year where Venus Williams, Ana Ivanovic and Caroline Wozniacki, three of the most recognisable names in tennis graced centre court.

But in securing Serena after four years of trying, they already have.