The announcement that the world’s most famous sportswoman, tennis superstar Serena Williams, will be the leading attraction at next year’s ASB Classic has just made Auckland the most desirable place to see in the New Year.
The tournament starts on January 2, and organisers expect Williams will be here for the players’ opening party on January 1.
So will she be here for New Year’s Eve? Organisers wouldn’t confirm her arrival date, but Spy reckons if she’s here to welcome in 2017, odds are on a private do at the Seafarers Members Club, where Oprah Winfrey, Prince and most recently Selena Gomez, have partied away from public eyes.
Tournament organisers expect Williams, 34, will make the most of her stay here, and Kiwi brands are already said to be lining up to bling out the stylish tennis goddess, who has 4.4 million Instagram followers.
“We’re really excited to show Serena everything that Auckland has to offer,” said tournament director Karl Budge.
“In the past, tennis stars have enjoyed trips to Waiheke and dining at some of the city’s best spots like Masu and The Grill. It’s no secret that Serena loves fashion so we’ll point her in the right direction if she wants to do a spot of shopping.”
And should Williams come straight from Christmas to New Zealand to get a head start on beating the jet lag, there are plenty of lodges where she could spend a quiet few days. The newly opened $50 million Helena Bay Resort, built by Russian billionaire Alexander Abramov, could certainly give her a taste of New Zealand befitting sporting royalty.
And the grounds of the Northland lodge are full of romantic walks should her boyfriend, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, be with her. He was courtside in July when she took out her seventh Wimbledon title in London.
The current World No 2 has won more than $100m in prize money, has over a dozen lucrative sponsorship endorsement deals and was last year named Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsperson of the Year” with a sensational cover shoot.
The tournament’s sponsors — ASB, Godfrey Hirst, BMW, Moet & Chandon, Emirates, Heineken and Kapiti — are delighted to be hosting the star.
Last year Naveya and Sloane gave Ana Ivanovic a $20,000 diamond ring and Ivanovic wore one of Juliette Hogan’s creations.
Now we’re just crossing our fingers for the Williams double act, with tournament organisers hopeful Venus will be back for a fourth year.