Sydney: Four-time French Open champion Justine Henin confirmed Monday that her comeback to tennis would begin in little more than a fortnight at Sydney’s Medibank International, where she is to join a field headed by world number one Serena Williams.
The three-time champion at Olympic Park was awarded a wild card for the WTA event, which begins January 10 and serves as a tune-up for the Australian Open starting a week later.
Nine of the women ranked in the world top 10 are entered although the fitness situation is dicey for 2009 finalist Dinara Safina, who withdrew from the Brisbane event the week before with long-term back pain.
“I have a lot of happy memories of Sydney, so I’m looking forward to returning in January as part of my preparation for the Australian Open,” Henin said in a statement. “The draw is very impressive.
“It will be great to get some tough, competitive matches before heading to Melbourne.”
Henin, who retired unexpectedly in May 2008, saying she felt burned out, won the Sydney event in 2004, 2006 and 2008.
The 27-year-old stood atop the rankings for 117 non-consecutive weeks and won seven Grand Slam singles titles, including the Australian Open in 2004.
Included in the women’s field are also Svetlana Kuznetsova, Dane Caroline Wozniacki and holder Elena Dementieva. The men’s line-up is to feature Lleyton Hewitt, Gael Monfils, Tomas Berdych and Marcos Baghdatis.