Mauresmo debuts at Coast hardcourts

TWO-time grand slam singles champion and former world No.1 Amelie Mauresmo will open her Australian summer campaign on the Gold Coast.

Mauresmo, 28, will contest the Australian Women's Hardcourt Championships at Royal Pines from December 30-January 5.

"This will be my first visit to the Gold Coast and my debut at the tournament, so there is a lot to look forward to," the Frenchwoman said yesterday.

"(It) will be a great opportunity to open the year against quality competition and fine-tune my preparation for the Australian Open two weeks later.

"Of course, Australia is where I won my first grand slam title back in 2006, so I have special memories of the country and always enjoy coming back."

Following her win at last year's Australian Open, Mauresmo went on to claim her second Major title at Wimbledon only a few months later, before finishing runner-up at the prestigious season-ending Sony %Ericsson WTA Tour Championships.

This year she accepted three major awards: the Legion of Honour, presented by French President %Jacques Chirac, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Player of the Year for achievements in 2006 and the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year in 2006.

Inspired to take up tennis at the age of four after watching Yannick Noah win the 1983 French Open, Mauresmo became the first French player, male or female, to achieve the world No.1 ranking in 2004, the same year she won the singles silver medal at the Athens Olympics.

Meanwhile, Alicia Molik and Peter Luczak have been named as Australia's team for the Hopman Cup in Perth starting on December 29 at Burswood Dome.

Molik and Luczak join a strong field for the mixed team's exhibition event which also includes the %powerhouse Serbian pairing of men's and women's world number threes Novak Djokovic and Jelena Jankovic.

Although the Australians will arrive as outsiders, Molik boasts a formidable record at the mixed teams' exhibition event.

The 26-year-old, who was ranked as high as eighth in the world before her career was derailed by an inner ear infection, has won 11 of her 15 singles matches in Perth and beat some quality opponents, including former Belgian star Kim Clijsters.

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