SINGAPORE, October 18-Serena Williams will aim to become the first woman to win the WTA World Tour Finals three times in a row since Monica Seles in 1992 when the season-ending tournament begins in Singapore on Monday.
Williams won the title for the last two years when it was held in Istanbul and she previously triumphed in 2009 and 2001.
The 33-year-old world number one from the United States will start as a strong favourite having won the US Open with some ease in September. It was her 18th Grand Slam title win.
The draw made on Saturday was also kind to her with her round-robin Red Group opponents being the youthful pair of Simona Halep of Romania and Eugenie Bouchard of Canada along with former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic of Serbia.
World number two Maria Sharapova is the headliner in the White Group with opposition from in-form Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.
The only cloud hanging over Williams concerns her fitness following her withdrawal from the WTA Beijing tournament earlier this month due to a knee injury.
Williams, though, said she was ready to play.
“I don’t care who I play, to be perfectly honest with you. You can put me against anybody at this point, I’m ready,” she said after the draw.
“I really can’t wait for my match. I wish I had a match tomorrow.”
Bouchard is also a fitness doubt after pulling out of a tournament in Austria 10 days ago because of a leg problem, while Ivanovic, who has a 1-7 win-loss record against Williams, also withdrew from Linz with a hip injury.
Halep, who reached the French Open final in June where she took Sharapova all the way before losing, has been struggling for form in recent weeks and has been unable to make it past the quarter-finals of an event since July.
Focus in the White Group will no doubt centre on the clash between former champions Sharapova and Kvitova.
Sharapova, who last won the tournament in 2004, retains an outside chance of overtaking Williams at the top of the rankings, although to do so she will probably need a flawless run at the Singapore Sports Hub.
The most recent meeting between Sharapova and Kvitova came earlier this month, Sharapova triumphing in three sets in the final of the China Open.
WTA Finals draw:
Serena Williams (USA), Simona Halep (ROM), Eugenie Bouchard (CAN), Ana Ivanovic (SRB)
Maria Sharapova (RUS), Petra Kvitova (CZE), Agnieszka Radwanska (POL), Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)