Tennis: Venus Williams drops out of Hobart ahead of Australian Open

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams pulled out of the Hobart International Sunday to give herself a full rest and recovery ahead of this month's Australian Open.

Williams, ranked 47 in the world, dropped out of the Hobart tournament after losing the Auckland Classic in a marathon three-set final to Ana Ivanovic on Saturday.

"After a long week during my first tournament of the year, my body needs time to rest and recover," Williams said, announcing her withdrawal.

"Unfortunately, I am not able to play this week in Hobart. I was looking forward to playing in Tasmania and I sincerely do hope to play there in the coming years."

Williams, 33, has not won a title since October 2012, and Auckland was her first appearance in a WTA final since then. Her last Grand Slam win was in 2008.

The former world number one is seeking to rejoin the game's elite after two years marred by auto-immune disease and injury.

Williams was to be among the Hobart International's star attractions and her withdrawal is a blow for the tournament.

"I know it was a hard decision and we wish her the best of luck for the Australian Open," said tournament director Mark Handley.

Williams is expected to travel straight to Melbourne for practice ahead of the Australian Open, which begins on January 13.