Serena Williams 'Will Be Back' at 2018 Australian Open, Per Tournament Director

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

"Serena will be back", he said.

Tiley added: "We're proud of the fact she's gone around the world, she's told that her baby's AO - Australian Open, Alexis Ohanian".

At a news conference Tuesday called to announce an increase in prize money for the year's first major, tournament director Craig Tiley said Williams was planning on playing the January 15-28 Australian Open.

Williams can match Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles if she defends her title.

Venus is in career-best form, achieving her highest ranking since January 2011 after she finished runner-up to Serena at both Wimbledon and the Australian Open.

She has just three months to get fit if she is to defend her title. Obviously, at training now, there is several months to go. She was eight weeks pregnant when she played the Australian Open.

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Despite Williams' past assertions, however, she's been mum lately about her intentions with tennis, preferring instead to share more parental-oriented tidbits. The 36-year-old Serena Williams gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., on September 1 and has previously said she plans to return to playing in 2018.

In the 2018 edition of the tournament, the prize money pool has increased by 10% to AU$55million (£32.4m).

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

And Australian Open organisers confirmed she is still pushing to return to the WTA Tour in Melbourne Park.

Tiley also announced that former World No. 1 Andy Murray will compete at Melbourne Park in the tournament, which spans from January 15-28. Both players have been hit by injuries this year and will have watched on as Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal shared four slam victories between them.

"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.

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