The style and elegance are back. Frenchwoman Mary Pierce will use next week's Hong Kong Ladies Challenge as a launching pad for her big comeback from injury at the Australian Open. Pierce, who received a wildcard for the season's first Grand Slam, said she was 'feeling better than ever' and was confident of returning to the tour in good nick for the first time in almost a year for the four-day tournament, starting next Wednesday at Victoria Park. Pierce had a tumultuous 2001, missing most of the season because of injury and illness. She had tendinitis in both ankles when she withdrew from tournaments in Dubai, Scottsdale and Indian Wells. She had suffered from chronic inflammation of the lumbar spine and a bout of influenza also struck to add to her misery. The 26-year-old's injury nightmare started at last year's US Open when she was forced to retire from her fourth round match against Anke Huber. Her long series of injuries saw her world ranking plummet to 129 from a career high of three in 1995. But Pierce said she was back. Speaking from her residence in Bradenton, Florida, the two-time Grand Slam champion said: 'I'm probably as fit and healthy as I have ever been because I have been out for so long. I took the time to prepare and stayed fit and healthy. 'I have been feeling 100 per cent now for a while. When you go back on the tour you have to feel 100 per cent to play matches. Now I feel great and I am looking forward to competing again. I am ready.' Her long series of injuries knocked her off her pedestal four months after becoming the first Frenchwoman to win the French Open since Francoise Durr in 1967 in winning the singles title at Roland Garros in 2000. She was unable to defend her French Open title this year because of the injuries, but she took it in stride and said that was 'all part of the game'. She said: 'My injury took a while to heal, but I was able to get back into shape and now I feel good.' Pierce was grateful to get the chance to compete in one of her favourite events at the Australian Open. Apart from winning the event in 1995 she also reached the final in 1997. 'I am very excited. I'm very grateful that they are giving me a wildcard to participate in Australia. 'It's one of my favourite tournaments and I have great memories because I won there in 1995 and I'm definitely looking forward to my first Grand Slam of 2002.' Pierce was also looking forward to returning to Hong Kong for the first time in two years. 'It's a fantastic opportunity for me to get some good matches before the Australian Open,' she said of her first Hong Kong visit since 2000. 'Competing in Hong Kong against all the top women prepares me for the season.' Pierce said Jennifer Capriati had a 'great year' and was probably the best player at the moment, although there were a string of other players who were 'right up there'. World number two Capriati, who won in Hong Kong in 2000 and was beaten in the semi-finals last January, will return to the place where her comeback started. Pierce will take on Austria's Barbara Schett in the first round at Victoria Park. Also competing in the tournament are Indonesian rookie Angelique Widjaja, South Africa's Amanda Coetzer, Russia's Lina Krasnoroutskaya, Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn and Elena Dementieva of Russia.