- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 12, 2011

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA (AP) - Serena Williams will open her 2012 season for the first time at the Brisbane International tournament, a warmup for the Australian Open.

Both U.S. Open finalists will be in the field for the event that begins Jan. 1. Samantha Stosur, who was already confirmed for the tournament, defeated Williams 6-2, 6-3 in New York to earn her first Grand Slam title.

“I’ve never been to Brisbane (but I’ve) heard great things about it,” Williams said in a statement.

The Brisbane International has been elevated to WTA Premier level tournament. Williams has five Australian Open titles among her 13 Grand Slam wins.

“It’s brand new so all that is going to be really exciting and it will help me with my seeding going into the Australian Open too, so that would be good,” she said.

Former top-ranked players Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters and Ana Ivanovic also are in the field.

Clijsters, the reigning Australian Open champion, will be returning to the WTA Tour after being sidelined by a torn abdominal muscle that prevented her from defending her U.S. Open title.

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