Serena Williams has entered the Australian Open and that could be music to the ears of tennis fans here.

Yes the former World number one's first appearance in Auckland last January was a fizzer as she suffered a limp second round exit to the unheralded Madison Brengle and promptly blasted the tournament afterwards, blaming the wind and describing her preparation as the worst possible for the Australian Open.

However she went on to win her 23rd Grand Slam title in Melbourne before revealing she was pregnant, a remarkable achievement but which could have contributed to her performance on and off the court in Auckland.

Read more: Serena Williams tipped to win Australian Open after entry confirmed


ASB Classic tournament director Karl Budge started serious talks with Serena's agent last month, based around the belief Williams would likely need to play a tournament before the Australian Open, having not played competitively since her win 12 months ago.

Now that she's entered the first Grand Slam tournament of the year those talks should ramp up.

Williams would appear to have four options, the WTA Premier event in Brisbane, Shenzhen and Auckland along with the following week's WTA tournament in Sydney.

I just can't see her travelling to China where the conditions are so foreign to what she will experience down under. I also suspect with her baby she will want to be well ensconced in Melbourne the week leading into the Grand Slam, so Sydney's probably a no go.

That leaves Brisbane and Auckland. The Brisbane field is ridiculously strong with 12 of the top 20 and having not played for a year Williams would have a better chance of going deep at a tournament like Auckland.

She's also the sort of player I sense likes to make amends for her rare failures.

She knows she wasn't good here a year ago, and just maybe that factor will motivate her to return. Throw in her close friendship with Caroline Wozniacki (the ASB Classic's top seed) and she is a chance, however slim.

It won't be about money, Williams will be well compensated. It will be about Budge convincing her that Auckland's ASB Classic will provide Williams with the best preparation for her Australian Open title defence.


Meanwhile Marina Erakovic's absence from the Classic for the first time in more than a decade is a major blow. A semi finalist in 2008, the Kiwi has been an ever present at the tournament and while she's had mixed results over the years, always generated excitement for the local fans. It's good to hear Erakovic still believes she can compete and succeed at Tour level and with no one locally emerging to take over the mantle, let's hope she returns to the tour soon and plays her home tournament again in 2019.