Tennis Legend Serena Williams handed tough draw in first match since US Open final – and is in line for first meeting with Coco Gauff

Tennis Legend Serena Williams handed tough draw in first match since US Open final – and is in line for first meeting with Coco Gauff

Serena Williams will return to action for the first time since a fourth consecutive straight sets Grand Slam final defeat at last year’s US Open and faces a tough opener against fellow multiple major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova in Auckland.

The pair’s rivalry will extend to a third decade when they face off for the 14th time in the first round of the ASB Classic – a tournament both will be using to tune up ahead of the Australian Open.

Williams last featured at the International event in 2017, where she suffered a second-round loss to compatriot Madison Brengle, and she will have her work cut out against Russian two-time Grand Slam winner Kuznetsova in the first round this time around.

The 23-time major winner hasn’t played a competitive match since a defeat to young Canadian Bianca Andreescu in the final of the US Open in September. In 2019 she only played four official tour events outside of Grand Slams and failed to complete any of them due to injury.

Teen sensation Cori “Coco” Gauff is among the star names in the draw and could potentially meet her idol Williams in the quarter-finals.

The pair trained together in the off-season at the Mouratoglou Academy in December, with legendary heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson among those also involved in their pre-season preparations.

Gauff, 15, begins her 2020 against 21-year-old Slovak Viktoria Kuzmova and could meet Jelena Ostapenko – the former French Open champion who ended 2019 in red hot form – in round two. Gauff defeated Ostapenko to win her first WTA title in Linz in October.

Caroline Wozniacki, who announced her plans to retire from professional tennis after the Australian Open, is among the other big names in the draw. She takes on home favourite Paige Mary Hourigan in round one.

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