SYDNEY - American star Venus Williams has been confirmed as a starter in the Hobart WTA International in January, organisers said on Wednesday. The seven-time Grand Slam champion, now ranked 48, will be making her first appearance in the tournament in the run-up to the first Grand Slam of the new year Australian Open, which will be held in Melbourne in late January. "The tournament is played on the same surface as the Australian Open, so it will be a great place to get some good match practice against tough opponents before I head to Melbourne," Williams, who is struggling to regain her lost champions form since long said in a statement issued by the organisers. She will join Australia's former US Open champion Sam Stosur in the event from January 5-11.–AFP