Published: 14:26, August 6, 2022 | Updated: 14:30, August 6, 2022
S. Williams faces tough draw in 1st US Open tune-up event
By Reuters

This hand out photo released by the Tennis Australia on Feb 18, 2021 shows Serena Williams of the US gets emotional at a press conference after losing her women's semi-final match against Japan's Naomi Osaka on day eleven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne. (ROB PREZIOSO / TENNIS AUSTRALIA / AFP)

Serena Williams will have her work cut out for her when the Toronto Open kicks off next week as the 23-time Grand Slam champion begins her hardcourt preparations for the upcoming US Open.

If Serena Williams can get past a qualifier in her first round match she will then face either Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Belinda Bencic or savvy veteran and former world number one Victoria Azarenka in the second round

If Williams can get past a qualifier in her first round match she will then face either Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Belinda Bencic or savvy veteran and former world number one Victoria Azarenka in the second round.

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Williams' brutal quarter of the draw released on Friday also includes current world number one Iga Swiatek, four-time major champion Naomi Osaka, and Canadian teen sensation Leylah Fernandez.

A three-time winner of the event and a finalist as recently as 2019, she will be unseeded this time around.

The American, who turns 41 next month, returned to action after a year away from the court at Wimbledon in June, where she suffered her second straight first round exit at the grass court major she has won seven times.

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The main draw of the National Bank Open in Toronto begins on Aug 8 and Williams is then expected to compete at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati before heading to New York for the US Open, which begins on Aug 29.