'Serena will be back': Australian Open director backs Williams' return

'Serena will be back': Australian Open director backs Williams' return

Pic: Getty ImagesAndy Murray and Serena Williams are set to play at the Australian Open in January, according to tournament director Craig Tiley.

Giving birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian September, the American later revealed her intention to defend her title and Tiley claims the 36-year-old will be back.

"She wants to come back in 2018 and defend her title", Tiley added (via the BBC).

"I've been in contact with all the top players and am pleased to announce we'll have the full top 100 men and women returning to the Australian Open in January", Tiley said at the launch on Tuesday.

The tournament will mark the Grand Slam return of Serena Williams, who missed much of the 2017 season while pregnant. "She was eight weeks pregnant when she played the Australian Open and very few people knew that".

Serena Williams and partner Alexis Ohanian attend a gala event before the birth of her daughter in May. Australian Margaret Court is the all-time leader with 24. Obviously, at training now, there is several months to go.

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The 2018 Open will offer record prizemoney of $55 million, with the men's and women's winners each to pocket a record $4 million.

The women's trophy will be presented by U.S. great Billie Jean King, 50 years after she won her first Australian Open title.

"Venus has also had an incredible year, turning back the clock to make the second week of every major this year", Tiley said.

Tiley also announced that former World No. 1 Andy Murray will compete at Melbourne Park in the tournament, which spans from January 15-28.

The British number one has been sidelined since limping out of Wimbledon with a hip injury in July and he is unlikely to play again this year. "I have been playing some really great tennis this year and I feel I'm in a strong position, both physically and mentally, in the lead up to Sydney", she said.

While Nick Kyrgios will be a headline act, fellow Australian Bernard Tomic may be forced to seek a wildcard entry unless his ranking improves to about 105 in the world.