Perth, Dec 27 (UNI) India's chances of a bright beginning in the Hopman Cup received a huge boost after former world number one Serena Williams of the United States pulled out of their inaugral tie due to mild illness today.
Sania Mirza will now face Meghann Shaughnessy, who substituted the Australian Open Champion in the first singles match of the tie.
''It's great that Serena is still playing in Perth. Meghann is a good substitute coming off her appearance in the final of the 2007 US Open Mixed Doubles and a strong year in singles,'' tournament Director, Paul McNamee said.
Serena will be eligible to play the next Group match as according to tournament rules, substitutions are allowed between ties.
Meanwhile, in the men's section, Rohan Bopanna will take on Mardy Fish in the men's singles before the mixed doubles match.
After the Group B tie against United States on Saturday, India will play Czech Republic and hosts Australia on January 1 and 3 respectively.