Watch: ASB Classic director hints at Williams sisters' return to Auckland

The superstar duo of Serena and Venus Williams could be set for a return to the ASB Classic in 2018, if everything goes to plan for tournament director Karl Budge.

Speaking to 1 NEWS today, Budge made no secret of his desire to see the biggest names in women's tennis return to Auckland next year, having both underwhelmed last January.

When asked about the possibility of luring the Williams sisters back, Budge said that he was doing everything he can to see it happen.

"We're trying to have that conversation again at the moment," he said.

"We've obviously got a special relationship with Venus, so we've certainly asked that question to see if there's anything we can do to get you to do your familiar lead into the Australian Open."

Budge then spoke about the possibility of hosting the return of Serena Williams to competitive action, with the 23-time Grand Slam champion having not played since giving birth to daughter Alexis in September.

"She's come out and publicly said that she's going to play week two - the Australian Open."

"I sent her a bit of a message saying redemption would be a lovely thing."

"It'd cap off a pretty awesome last couple of years if we get Serena back out here."

Karl Budge is doing everything he can to bring the tennis superstar sisters back to NZ. Source: 1 NEWS


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Defending ASB Classic singles champs Julia Goerges and Roberto Bautista Agut confirm returns for 2019

The 2018 ASB Classic singles champions will be back to defend their titles in Auckland next year with both Julia Goerges and Roberto Bautista Agut confirming their returns for 2019.

Goerges said she is looking forward to be returning to the City of Sails to kick off her 2019 season.

"I love playing in Auckland. It is one of my favourite tournaments and the best preparation for the Australian Open. I have had some great results there and I am very happy to be back as ASB Classic defending champion."

Tournament director Karl Budge said also securing Bautista Agut's return is huge for the event.

"Everyone will remember Roberto’s epic semi-final battle against Robin Haase, and then to back that up the next day in the final against Juan Martin del Potro, it was extraordinary.

"In the women’s final, both Julia and Caroline Wozniacki were fighting for their maiden ASB Classic title with Julia coming out on top. It’s just so great to have both of our champs back to defend their titles."

The pair join other big names such as Venus Williams, John Isner, Victoria Azarenka and Wozniacki as confirmed entrants.

 

Germany's Julia Goerges celebrates a point during her quarter final at the ASB Classic. WTA Womens Tournament. ASB Tennis Centre, Auckland, New Zealand. Thursday 5 January 2017. © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz
Julia Goerges celebrates during her match against Caroline Wozniacki at the ASB Classic. Source: Photosport


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Two-time Grand Slam champ Victoria Azarenka confirmed for Auckland's ASB Classic

Two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka is heading to the ASB Classic in 2019.

Azarenka was due to play in Auckland earlier this year, but withdrew after an ongoing legal battle over custody of her son.

“She wanted to be here last year and she was certainly gearing up to be here. It was only the restriction of her not being able to leave the States last year that mean that she couldn’t come,” tournament director Karl Budge told 1 NEWS.

“Obviously it’s very pleasing that she wanted to come back, it was a pretty easy conversation for us to lure her.”

Budge expects the refreshed and re-focused Belarusian to get back to winning ways in Auckland.

"She's taken the year off from year through so she won't play for the remainder of the year. She's going home to have a really big training block, and come back with an assault on that top 10. A grit-between-the-teeth Victoria Azarenka's a scary proposition."

She is the third major winner to be announced in the women’s draw, following Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams.

Budge expects to add one more Grand Slam champion to the mix.

Victoria Azarenka is knocked out of Wimbledon Source: Associated Press

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Danish star Caroline Wozniacki returning to Auckland's ASB Classic

Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki has confirmed via social media that she will be returning to Auckland for her sixth time at the ASB Classic.

The Australian Open winner, currently in Beijing competing at the China Open, made the announcement this afternoon on Facebook.

"I cant wait to start my 2019 year in one of my favourite cities for the ASB Classic," Wozniacki posted.

"Such a fun place to play. Going one better in 2019! See my kiwi fans soon." 

The ASB Classic tournament begins on December 31 and finishes up on January 12, 2019.

Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki during her quarter final at the ASB Classic. WTA Womens Tournament. ASB Tennis Centre, Auckland, New Zealand. Thursday 5 January 2017. © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz
Caroline Wozniacki competes at the ASB Classic on Day Four Source: Photosport


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Serena Williams sings I Touch Myself to raise awareness for breast cancer

US tennis star Serena Williams has gone topless to sing the Divinyls hit I Touch Myself, in a video to promote breast cancer awareness month.

Williams posted the clip to Instagram where it has racked up over two million views since being posted on Sunday.

With her hands covering her breasts, Williams writes in the Instagram post that the video took her out of her "comfort zone."

However, she said she wanted to do it because early detection saves so many lives.

"Yes, this put me out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to do it because it’s an issue that affects all women of all colors, all around the world. Early detection is key - it saves so many lives.

"I just hope this helps to remind women of that."


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