Serena hasn't ruled out defending Aus Open title
Australian Open organisers are hopeful of having reigning champion Serena Williams back at Melbourne Park to defend her title in 2018.
At the launch of the 2018 Australian Open on Tuesday, tournament director Craig Tiley revealed first-time mother Williams, 36, has not ruled out making her comeback in Melbourne after giving birth in September.
Tennis great and former world number one Williams celebrated the birth of her first child Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr - who has the initials of the Australian Open - on September 1, having been pregnant when she won her 23rd grand slam at the year's first major in January.
But Tiley is expecting to welcome back a host of stars, including Williams, when the Australian Open gets underway on January 15.
"I'm very happy to confirm that all the top players will be back in Melbourne in January," said Tiley, who also announced an increase in prize money at the slam, jumping to a record 55million Australian dollars.
"It's been an incredibly exciting year for tennis. We have seen Roger [Federer] and Rafa [Nadal], and Serena and Venus [Williams] really raise the bar in terms of performance and it all started here in Melbourne.
"Who would have thought when Serena and Venus met the ballkids the week before the AO that they'd end up facing each other in the women's final? Or that after Serena won, for the sixth time, we'd find out that she was eight weeks pregnant?
"Serena is a truly remarkable athlete and she's hasn't ruled out a return to the Australian Open.
"Her baby's initials are AO 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. If anyone can do it, she can and I'm certainly not counting her out of a return come January."