Los Angeles: Serena Williams is “very likely” to return to Melbourne for the 2018 Australian Open, according to tournament director Craig Tiley.
Williams gave birth to her first child, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr, during the 2017 US Open, and has not competed professionally since she won her 23rd Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open earlier this year.
She has been in training since the birth with new hitting partner Jarmere Jenkins, but coach Patrick Mouratoglou said last week that she had not yet made a decision on whether she would compete for her eighth Australian Open singles title.
Tiley, however, was much more enthusiastic when asked about the prospect at a Tennis Australia event to announce that NBL clubs Melbourne United and Cairns Taipans would play a game on Hisense Arena during the Australian Open.
“She has got her visa, she has entered, she’s practising, and she probably just needs a bit more space for a bigger entourage,” Tiley said.
“There is no question she will be ready in our view.
“She wants to break the record owned by Margaret Court and it would be a significant accomplishment.”
Court won a record 24 Grand Slam singles titles. Nonetheless, she continues to attract controversy for her views on a range of topics, including marriage equality, and comments earlier this year that “tennis is full of lesbians.”
Most recently, Tina Arena drew attention to the spectre of the name of Court’s arena being changed as Ashleigh Barty was awarded the Newcombe Medal for 2017.