Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
Sports | By Grace Becker

Serena Williams targets Australian Open defence in 2018, says tournament boss

Serena Williams targets Australian Open defence in 2018, says tournament boss

"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.

She has a special bond with the Melbourne Park event and her daughter's name Alexis Olympia Ohanian are a nod to the event.

The two of them, along with the three-time Grand Slam victor Stan Wawrinka and 14th ranked Kei Nishikori, will return to action in Melbourne as tournament director Craig Tiley confirmed the news. "We look forward to welcoming her and again go on that journey of breaking the all-time record for the most number of Grand Slams". She now leads. It is in several months and, obviously, it will be to her to determine where she is physically. 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".

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Emiliano Grillo (68) of Argentina, the victor in 2015, was tied for fifth place with Canada's Graham DeLaet (69) at 11 under par. Zach Johnson, the 12-time PGA Tour victor playing the event for the first time, had a 68 with five birdies and a bogey.

Her first child's initials are the same as the first Grand Slam of the year and Williams had previously outlined her plans to defend the title they won together - despite the tournament starting just four months after she gave birth.

If that's in Melbourne, she'll be competing for more money.

In 2018, both the men's and women's winners will collect a $4m cheque, up from $3.7m in 2017, while the entire prize money pool has increased by 10% to $55m.

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"Bernie always tends to pick it up toward the end of the season and do well leading into the year so hopefully he will be able to do that", Tiley said.

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

"There's still quite a bit of tennis to be played before the end of the year so that's (a wildcard) is a bridge we'll cross when we come to it".

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Serena Williams may add her first post-baby Grand Slam title to her collection at the Australian Open in January.

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