Aussie officials expecting Serena Williams to defend title

Lynette Rowe
October 11, 2017

Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley on Tuesday announced that the top 100 men's and women's players would compete at the first Grand Slam of the year despite many having suffered injuries in 2017, reports Xinhua news agency. She wants to come back in 2018 and defend her title.

Williams has captured 23 Grand Slam singles titles, one more than Steffi Graf for the Open-era record. This year she was eight weeks pregnant when she triumphed over her sister Venus in Melbourne. "It will be up to her as far as where she is with her fitness".

Serena Williams after winning the 2017 Australian Open, when she was pregnant with her first child.

"I can tell you that in talking to Andy, he has been training and he is preparing for having a great year in 2018".

"I don't think my story is over yet", she told Vanity Fair over the summer, when she first indicated that she wanted to come back in January. The American veteran, 37, shows no signs of slowing down and enjoyed one of her best seasons this year, making the final of Wimbledon and the Australian Open and the semis at the US Open.

Williams, who is engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, has not played on the WTA Tour since her victory at Melbourne Park.

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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.

Tiley said the winners' prizemoney had broken a barrier. Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori return from injury.

"It's the first time ever that both the women and the men's victor will receive $4m each - that has not been done by any other Grand Slam or any other event", says Tiley.

Tiley, though, is confident that the Australian Open will welcome back some tennis heavyweights.

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.

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