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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Venus Williams 'excited' to make Mubadala World Tennis Championship debut

The seven-time major winner will compete in an exhibition event at the tournament in Abu Dhabi in December

Venus Williams will make her debut at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in December. USA Today
Venus Williams will make her debut at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in December. USA Today

Venus Williams is "excited" about the prospect of returning to the Middle East as she prepares to play at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in December in Abu Dhabi.

The seven-time major winner will make her debut at the MWTC in an exhibition match against an opponent yet to be announced.

She follows in the footsteps of younger sister Serena, who played in the first women's event at the tournament in 2017 when she lost to Jelena Ostapenko.

Venus revealed she had been a contender to play last year and is glad she will now get the chance to play an exhibition match at the Abu Dhabi International Tennis Centre between December 27-29.

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"I was on the short list to play last year and didn't quite make the cut, so I am excited to have been invited," she said on Tuesday night.

"I jumped at the opportunity to come and play tennis there. They have had the women there last year for the first time and it is exciting to be able to bring women's tennis to Abu Dhabi."

The American, 38, is hopeful that her match in Abu Dhabi will help her preparations for the start of the 2019 season and being competitive at the opening grand slam of the year, the Australian Open, which starts on January 14.

"I have never been to the Middle East at that time of year before. I do my training in Florida, which is pretty warm, but it will be good to get some more time on court and training in warm conditions and that should help me in Australia."

While December will be the first time that Venus has competed in the capital, the UAE has been a happy hunting ground for her in the past.

She is a three-time winner at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, her most recent success being in 2014, and only Justine Henin, with four, has more titles in the emirate.

"I have had a lot of success in the Middle East and it is nice to come back to somewhere that you have done well at," she added. "It creates good vibes and gives you something to feed off so that is something I am looking forward to."

Her opponent is due to be announced shortly by tournament organisers.

The men's competition will be held for the sixth year with three former winners in the line up.

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and 2017 winner Kevin Anderson will be in the draw. They are joined by 2018 French Open runner-up Dominic Thiem, as well as Chung Hyeon and Karen Khachanov.