MELBOURNE: World number one Ashleigh Barty and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams will spearhead the two WTA tournaments in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open, with the top 32-ranked women split evenly across the simultaneous events, organisers said Thursday.
The onslaught of Covid-19 has forced a radical change to how the early 2021 tennis season will look, with the Australian Open pushed back three weeks to February 8.
Players will arrive in Australia from January 15 and undergo a mandatory two-week quarantine before two WTA 500 and two ATP 250 events are held alongside the ATP Cup, all at Melbourne Park.
Organisers have branded it the Melbourne Summer Series and named each tournament after areas of Victoria state.
That will see the women play the Gippsland Trophy and Yarra Valley Classic from January 31-February 6, marking Barty’s first appearance in 11 months after opting out of the US and European swing last year over coronavirus fears.
As well as Williams, the likes of world number two Simona Halep, defending Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin and previous Australian Open winners Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber will take part.
Source: The News