Serena, Sharapova head to Oz
Brisbane - Reigning US Open and Wimbledon champion Serena Williams and French Open winner Maria Sharapova will start their 2013 seasons at the Brisbane International, organisers said on Thursday.
Williams, who defeated world No 1 Victoria Azarenka to win the US Open this month for her 15th Grand Slam title, said she was looking forward to being back in Brisbane.
"It helps me prepare. I get a great tournament - tough field," she said of the lead-up event to the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the season.
"I had so much fun this year but unfortunately it ended fast for me with the disaster of an injury. I want to do well there (in Brisbane)."
The 30-year-old American reached the quarter-finals of the 2012 event but withdrew prior to the match with a left ankle sprain.
Sharapova, whose French Open win crowned her return from a serious shoulder injury that nearly wrecked her career, is set to make her first appearance at the December 30-January 6 tournament.
"Going into Australia after a long off season you always want to have the best possible matches," she said.
"I tried to put Brisbane on the map last year but unfortunately couldn't make it out of injury - I have heard so many great things about it. It is such a big event for all the players."