Serena Williams set to begin 2020 season in Auckland

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Serena Williams is set to begin her 2020 season at the WTA’s ASB Classic in Auckland in January.

Organizers of the ASB Classic announced the entry of the 23-time major winner on Tuesday.

The 37-year-old Williams has played the hard court tournament once before, losing in the second round in 2017.

On that occasion Williams’ experience of the Auckland tournament was not a happy one. She complained about the wind and cold weather, saying “it’s my least favorite conditions I’ve ever played in.”

Williams announced her engagement to fiancee Alexis Ohanian during her stay in Auckland and told reporters on Tuesday her memories of the city are “amazing.”

“Oh man, I want to win that title so bad,” Williams was quoted as saying. “Last time I was there I had so much going on and although I fought through to win my first match, I know I didn’t play to my level.

“I have such amazing memories that are really special to me from Auckland. I would really like to add some on court memories to that list.”

Williams’ preparations for the upcoming U.S. Open have been hampered by injury. She withdrew from Cincinnati last week, citing the same back injury that forced her to retire from the Rogers Cup final in Toronto.

Mayar Sherif becomes first Egyptian to win WTA Tour event

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PARMA, Italy — Mayar Sherif became the first Egyptian to win a WTA Tour event by beating top-seeded Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-3 at the Parma Ladies Open.

Besides earning her first career title, Sherif also notched her first win over a top-10 opponent.

Along with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who reached the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals this year, Sherif is raising the profile of tennis in North Africa.

The 74th-ranked Sherif actually had to win two matches on Saturday, first overcoming sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the semifinals, which were postponed a day due to rain.

The seventh-ranked Sakkari beat Danka Kovinic 7-5, 6-2 in her semifinal earlier Saturday.

Parma Ladies Open semifinals postponed to same day as final

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PARMA, Italy — The semifinals of the Parma Ladies Open have been postponed by a day and will be played shortly before the final.

The decision was made because of persistent rain at the clay-court tournament.

Top-seeded Maria Sakkari will start on center court against Danka Kovinic at 10:30 a.m. local time (0830 GMT) before sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan’s match against Mayar Sherif.

The final will be after 6 p.m. local time, shortly after the doubles final – with the doubles semifinals also being played earlier in the day on a different court.