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Perth, Australia – Venus Williams will make her Hopman Cup debut in January as the American veteran plays alongside John Isner in the eight-nation mixed team event.
“I've never been to Perth – I've never played the Hopman Cup, so for me it's going to be a wonderful experience,” said Williams, 32, whose sister Serena has made several appearance at the start-of-year competition in Western Australia.
“I've watched it literally every year on TV so now I get to play. I'm very excited.”
The former No 1 brings a resume of seven Grand Slam titles to the new Perth arena, replacement venue for the event after two and a half decades at the riverside Burswood Dome.
The winner of 43 titles has made a successful adjustment to a syndrome which leaves her prone to fatigue and has picked up her career in the past few seasons. She and her sister won the London Olympic gold medal in doubles.
Isner will be playing in Perth at the round-robin event for the third time. “For me it's he perfect way to start the year,” Isner said. “It has the pressure of matches but then it's not exactly an ATP tournament.
“My previous two partners have been very small. But Venus is a little bit taller so I'm not going to look like such a giant out there. She's obviously one of the greatest players ever so I think our team has a good shot to do well.”
With four months to go, much of the Hopman field still needs to be filled. The only signings to date are the Serbian team with Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic plus Bernard Tomic playing for Australia with his female partner still unknown.
The event may still be feeling the bitter after-effects of a management shake-up orchestrated at the highest levels. Tennis Australia now runs the event with the blessing of the ITF after co-founder and longtime even boss Paul McNamee, a former Wimbledon doubles champion, was sacked in a surprise move earlier in 2012. – Sapa-dpa