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Serena Williams will be back to defend Australian Open title

Serena Williams will be back to defend Australian Open title

Australian Open director Craig Tiley says that Andy Murray and Serena Williams are expected to play in Melbourne in January. "It's exciting to think Serena could return to defend her title after motherhood, and it's also exciting to speculate on who can break through the pack to win", Tiley added.

"She was eight weeks pregnant when she played the Australian Open and very few people knew that".

The tournament will mark the Grand Slam return of Serena Williams, who missed much of the 2017 season while pregnant.

Venus is in career-best form, achieving her highest ranking since January 2011 after she finished runner-up to Serena at both Wimbledon and the Australian Open.

Williams' stellar year saw her return to the world top five for the first time since 2011, the year she was diagnosed with strength-sapping Sjogren's Syndrome.

The tournament's overall prize pool will increase be 55 million Australian dollars ($42.7 million), and the men's and women's singles champions will earn $A4 million (about $3.1 million depending on exchange rates), an increase of 20 percent. She now leads. It is in several months and, obviously, it will be to her to determine where she is physically.

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Serena Williams has revealed she is aiming to make her comeback to grand slam tennis at the 2018 Australian Open. "We look forward to welcoming her and again go on that journey of breaking the all-time record for the most number of grand slams".

At 35, Williams is the only player - man or woman - to win 23 grand slam singles titles in the Open era.

Tiley said while the upgrade to include a 5,000-seat sunken show-court wouldn't be complete until 2019, the tournament wouldn't be affected, with more music and a larger kids zone part of the attractions.

"Her baby's initials are AO [Alexis Ohanian] and she's suggested she should also have her name on the 2017 trophy, so the AO is well and truly top of mind for her at the moment", Tiley said.

Meanwhile, Tiley could not guarantee wayward Australian Bernard Tomic would get a start in the men's draw.