Serena Williams will be back to defend Australian Open title

SerenaWilliams-cropped

SerenaWilliams-cropped

Tournament director Craig Tiley said on Tuesday the reigning Australian Open champion was close to returning to the game after taking time out for the birth of her first daughter in September.

The 35-year-old discovered she was expecting shortly before the 2017 Australian Open in January but went on to win the tournament without dropping a set, beating her sister Venus in the Melbourne final 6-4 6-4. She wants to come back in 2018 and defend her title.

Serena Williams may add her first post-baby Grand Slam title to her collection at the Australian Open in January.

"She wants to come back in 2018 and defend her title and she's in training now".

"Serena is a truly remarkable athlete and she's hasn't ruled out a return to the Australian Open.

That ranking means a lot but also I think sometimes being able to compete means just as much", Williams said.

Even during her pregnancy, Williams remained active, training on the court as often as possible with the idea of returning to the Australian Open in 2018.

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"I've been in contact with all the top players", he said.

In 2018, both the men's and women's winners will collect a $4m cheque, up from $3.7m in 2017, while the entire prize money pool has increased by 10% to $55m.

Having generated record broadcast figures this year, Tiley said next year's event would again provide excitement and drama, particularly if, as expected.

In the men's field Tiley confirmed six-time victor Novak Djokovic and fellow former world No1 Andy Murray, who have both battled injury this year, would play in Melbourne.

The five-time runner-up in Melbourne has been out injured since he exited Wimbledon with a hip injury in July having made the decision to take the remainder of the season off for his recovery.

Australia's charge in the men's draw will be led by world No.21 Nick Kyrgios but Tiley couldn't guarantee that Bernard Tomic would get a start. "And am pleased to announce we'll have the full top 100 men and women returning to the Australian Open".

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