MELBOURNE - World number one Serena Williams will play Australian wildcard Ashleigh Barty in the first round of the Australian Open as she bids for her 18th grand slam title and sixth at Melbourne Park.
The American's draw lines her up for a potentially tough fourth-round clash with Sam Stosur, who beat Williams in the 2011 U.S. Open final.
Two-times defending champion Victoria Azarenka, seeded second, will take on Swede Johanna Larsson according to the draw released on Friday.
Third seed Maria Sharapova will play American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, while fourth seed Li Na, runner-up at Melbourne Park last year, will play a qualifier. (Reporting by Ian Ransom; editing by Greg Stutchbury)