Serena Williams will be ready to make her tennis comeback at the Australian Open for the season’s opening Grand Slam, organisers of the competition said on Wednesday.
Williams, 36, won this year’s Australian Open while pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl in September. She has taken time off the tour, raising questions over whether the American would attempt to defend her title next month.
However, tournament director Craig Tiley raised hopes of a return to action for the 23-time Grand Slam winner who will be having 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,” Tiley is quoted 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.”
The Australian, Margaret Court remains the most successful player in Grand Slam history with 24 major titles, and Serena Williams will be looking to equal the record when tournament opens in January.
But Williams’ long-time coach Patrick Mouratoglou had earlier cast doubts on her appearance at Melbourne Park next month, saying “we will take a decision regarding Australia”.
“Serena is getting ready for 2018. She is practising and getting back in shape. I will be joining her soon in Florida,” Mouratoglou said.
“We will see how her body is reacting and how her tennis level is.”
Williams has so far remained silent regarding her participation at the event, leaving fans, and the rest of the tour, on tenterhooks.