Serena Williams will be ready to make her tennis comeback at the Australian Open with her return to Melbourne for the season’s opening Grand Slam “very likely”, organisers said Wednesday.
Williams, 36, won this year’s Australian Open while pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl in September. She has not played a competition since, raising questions over whether the 23-time Grand Slam winner would attempt to defend her title next month.
But tournament director Craig Tiley is optimistic she will return for a crack at her seventh Melbourne Park crown after marrying Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian last month.
“She’s got her visa, she’s entered, she’s practising and she’s probably just got to find a bit more space for a bigger entourage,” Melbourne’s Herald Sun quoted him as saying.
“There’s no question that she’ll be ready in our view and she wants to break a record that is Margaret Court’s. It would be a pretty significant accomplishment for her to be able to do that.”
Australian Court has 24 major titles, making her the most successful player in Grand Slam history.
Tiley described the Australian Open, which will be held from January 15-28, as a “family-friendly event”.
“We’ve had this before. Roger Federer travels with his four kids and we are a family-friendly event,” he said, referring to Williams and her baby.
The winner of the 2018 tournament will walk away with Aus$4.0 million (US$3.0 million), up from Aus$3.7 million last year. The total tournament purse has risen 10 percent to Aus$55 million.