Serena Williams to play Brisbane

BRISBANE, Australia -- Serena Williams has decided to play in the Brisbane International in January.

Williams' move puts both U.S. Open finalists in the field for the tournament in Australia. Samantha Stosur, who was already confirmed for the Brisbane International, beat Williams 6-2, 6-3 to earn her first grand slam title at Flushing Meadows in September.

Williams, who counts five Australian Open titles among her 13 Grand Slam wins, will be opening her 2012 season at Brisbane.

"Well, I never played in Brisbane and I've never been to Brisbane (but I've) heard great things about it," Williams said in a statement.

"It's brand new (for me) 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 added.

The Jan. 1-8 Brisbane International, which for several years has served as a warmup for Australian Open later in the month, has been elevated to WTA Premier level.

ormer top-ranked Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters and Ana Ivanovic also will play in Brisbane.

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 this year.