Venus to play in exhibition tournament
Ferrero, Federer and Venus for post-SARS Hong Kong exhibition
Hong Kong, Oct 14: Top-ranked Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero, Wimbledon champions Roger Federer of Switzerland and American Venus Williams will headline a post-SARS exhibition tennis tournament next January, organizers said today.
The eight-person field - four men and four women - will also include rising Russian star Maria Sharapova, said tournament spokeswoman Semeul Shing, while the remaining players will be announced later.
Shing said organizers changed the format of the traditionally women's event to raise its profile - part of a $1 billion Hong Kong dollar (US$128 million) effort to revitalize the territory that was hard hit by the SARS outbreak between March and June.
The Hong Kong government will cover the tournament's losses up to HK$3.5 million (US$448,718)
The men and women will play in separate knockoff singles competitions, and all players will take part in a mixed doubles contest, Shing said.
The tournament will take place from Jan 8 to 10, ahead of the Australian Open, the first grand slam tournament of 2004.