Australian Open to be first event as a mum for Serena Williams

New mum Serena Williams is expected to return to the court at the Australian Open, according to tournament director Craig Tiley.

Serena Williams with the trophy after her victory against sister Venus in the 2017 Australian Open womens singles final in Melbourne. Picture: Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images

The 36 year old has not played since winning last year’s tournament in Melbourne – when she was already pregnant with her first child.

She gave birth to a girl in September and has taken to the practice courts in preparation for a return in 2018. And that will come at Melbourne Park after Tiley revealed the 23-time grand slam champion has entered the tournament with the target of eventually surpassing Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam singles titles.

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He told Melbourne newspaper the Herald Sun: “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.

“There’s no question that she’ll be ready in our view and she wants to break a record that is Margaret Court’s.

“It would be a pretty significant accomplishment for her to be able to do that.”

Meanwhile, one of Serena’s likely rivals for the title, Johanna Konta, has appointed Michael Joyce as her new coach. The British No 1 has been looking for a replacement for Wim Fissette since they parted company in October and has turned to the 44-year-old, who used to coach Maria Sharapova.

Joyce will be in Konta’s camp for the first tournament of the new season in Brisbane, starting on 1 January.

“Michael is a fantastic coach with a great pedigree and 
I’m really excited to work 
with him,” she announced 

“2017 has been amazing but I feel like there is so much more to come.

“Our first tournament together will be the Brisbane International and the plan is for Michael to travel with me full-time through 2018.”

Konta ended her partnership with Fissette after a disappointing end to what had been an impressive 2017. She won her biggest singles title of her career in Miami and followed that up with a run to the Wimbledon semi-final, which sent her to number four in the world.

But that proved the high point of her campaign and a poor run of form in the autumn saw her part ways with Fissette in October.

After a lengthy recruitment process she has now appointed Joyce, who worked with Sharapova for seven years between 2004 and 2011 and helped the Russian to two grand slam titles and the world No 1 ranking.

The American, whose highest ranking as a player was No 64 in 1996, has most recently worked with another former world No 1, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.

Konta has retained Gill Myburgh as her strength and conditioning coach, Milly Mirkovic as her physio and Elena Sosa as her mental coach.