Serena Williams to open 2012 season at Brisbane

By the Associated Press | October 12, 2011 | 9:00 AM EDT

FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2011 file photo, U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur of Australia, right, and her runner-up Serena Williams of the United States pose with the trophies at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011. Williams could meet Stosur in a reprise of their U.S. Open final loss after signing up to play the Brisbane International in January. The Jan. 1-8 Brisbane International, which for several years has served as a warmup for the Australian Open later in the month, has been elevated to WTA Premier level. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

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 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 defending her U.S. Open title.