ASB Classic organisers are "fully confident" that Serena Williams will take the court in Auckland in January, despite a lingering shoulder injury that has ruled her out for the rest of this year.
Williams, who was announced last month as the tournament's marquee signing for 2017, withdrew from the season-ending WTA finals on Tuesday, citing doctor's advice to rest her problematic shoulder.
"My doctor insists that I stay at home and heal it every single day so I can have a chance to play next year," said Williams in a statement. "It has been a really tough year for me, just dealing with my shoulder injury."
The 35-year-old has played only eight tournaments in 2016, including the four grand slams and the Rio Olympics. She has battled a niggling shoulder condition since the northern hemisphere summer, which meant she played just three events between June and October, and missed the entire Asian swing.
However, ASB Classic tournament director Karl Budge sees the latest news about his top seed as no cause for concern.
"Everything is on track for Serena to be here next year and this doesn't change it at all," said Budge. "We have heard nothing to believe that she won't be on court here in Auckland as planned.
"Serena has a great track record of playing the first week of the year and we are lucky that we form build of that Australian Open build-up," said Budge. "By January she wouldn't have played since the US Open and she will be very keen to get back out on court. We are fully confident Serena will be in Auckland, injury free and firing. "
Budge added that he had been in conversations with Williams' agent last weekend, as they continue to finalise travel plans and other arrangements ahead of her visit.
"For us it is business as usual," said Budge. "That's how we are proceeding."
Williams' withdrawal from the Singapore event next week isn't exactly a surprise. She has never prioritised the end of year tournament, featuring only three times since the turn of the decade.
If there was any doubt around her shoulder she was always going to pull the pin, instead of putting her 2017 season in jeopardy.
Williams has always had a fragmented calendar, with fewer tournaments than most other top players, and playing events after the US Open has never been a priority.
There will still be some doubts until Williams actually touches down in the Queen City early next year, as there is with every big name signing to the ASB Classic.
But most - especially on the women's side - have honoured their commitments in recent years and it's not the time for alarm bells around Williams just yet.