NEWS

Serena comeback is on after superstar 'enters Australian Open'

December 6, 2017

There seem to be few tennis feats beyond Serena Williams, who has now won more Grand Slam titles in the open era than any other player. And fans booking corporate hospitality for the Championships, Wimbledon, will be looking forward to her being back in 2018.

As everyone knows, she missed the 2017 edition due to her pregnancy, but she was already expecting when she won the Australian Open in February. Thus the revelation that she will be back in Melbourne to defend her title will delight tennis fans. If winning in such circumstances was remarkable enough, retaining it would be extraordinary.

News of her planned appearance at Melbourne Park has been revealed by tournament director Craig Tiley in an interview with the Herald Sun.

He said: "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."

Mr Tiley added that there are a number of players who enjoy travelling to the "family friendly" tournament with their families, such as Roger Federer with his two sets of twins.

In the case of Serena Williams, travelling with her baby daughter Alexis Olympia will probably be the simpler part. The harder task will be to ensure she can regain the form and fitness that has brought her 23 Grand Slam titles.  

At the age of 36 that will not be easy, although being in Australia may provide two pieces of inspiration. Firstly, it is an Aussie, Margaret Court, who holds the all-time Grand Slam record for any player of 24 and, as Mr Tiley acknowledged: "She wants to break a record that is Margaret Court's." 

Serena may also take encouragement from the feat of another player from down under, Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, the one player in the last century to come back and win Wimbledon as a mother. If Melbourne proves too soon and she isn't able to win the French Open, the all England Club could be the place for Serena to equal the record.

Goolagong-Cawley won Wimbledon for the second time as a mother in 1980, having previously secured the title in 1971. In between, she had met former British junior player Roger Cawley, marrying him in 1975 and giving birth to their first child in 1977.

This made her one of just four Wimbledon-winning mothers, whereas winning other Grand Slams in more modern times has not proved so hard. Indeed, Court herself won the other three Grand Slams as a mother and Kim Clijsters won the US Open in 2009.

Of course, for Serena Williams the main thing will be just getting back on court and the fact that she plans to be in Melbourne means fans at Wimbledon and elsewhere can be very excited about the year ahead.

Indeed, Mr Tiley offered more good news by saying the top 100 in both the men's and women's games have put their names down for the first Grand Slam of the year. That indicates that all the top men who missed the latter part of 2017 with injury, including Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic, should be appearing in Melbourne.

Image: Getty, from Keith Prowse subscription 

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