Australian world No.1 Ash Barty will make her long-awaited return to the court when she gets her summer started at the star-studded exhibition in Adelaide next week.
Barty hasn’t played in 11 months but is a confirmed starter alongside world No.2 Simona Halep, third-ranked Naomi Osaka and 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams.
Called ‘A Day at the Drive’, the January 29 exhibition at Memorial Drive also features four of the top men’s players, with two singles matches in an afternoon and evening session
The men’s line-up comprises the top-three ranked players in Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem, and teenage Italian world No.26 Jannick Sinner.
The field boasts an impressive 67 grand slam singles titles between them.
Barty, who reached the Australian Open semi-finals last year, hasn’t played a competitive match since she was a semi-finalist at the Qatar Open in February.
She skipped last year’s US Open and the French Open, where she was set to defend her title, due to the threat of COVID-19.
Barty, 24, cited the health risks plus poor preparation when she was separated from her coach due to Australia’s border restrictions.
Currently training in Melbourne, Barty won the Adelaide International last year and said she was looking forward to getting back there.
“I am looking forward to playing my first match for the 2021 season in Adelaide,” Barty said.
“I have fond memories from the Adelaide International last year and it will be great to get back on court here for A Day at the Drive.”
Following the exhibition she will contest the WTA 500 tournament at Melbourne Park in the lead-up to day one of the Australian Open on February 8.