The Williams sisters will be seen only sparingly in the Open build-up. Serena will partner James Blake in the Hopman Cup in January, but Venus has not entered any of the lead-up events. The elder Williams retired hurt from her last match, a semi-final of the season-ending WTA Championships, citing a lower left leg strain.
Last January, Venus won the Gold Coast title before restricting herself to doubles at Homebush, where Serena received the ankle injury that led to her Australian Open withdrawal. Traditionally, one sister plays Sydney, but this year neither will appear. "All I've heard so far is that no one knows what Venus is doing," Watson said.