Andy Murray, Serena Williams expected to play in Australian Open

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

Tournament director Craig Tiley announced on Tuesday that Williams, who gave birth to a daughter in September, would be back in Melbourne for the tournament in January.

The 23-time grand slam singles champion and her fiance Alexis Ohanian named their daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr, with Williams previously tweeting: "Fun fact my daughters initials are AO as in the Aussie open she won with me @AustralianOpen". "It's exciting to think Serena could return to defend her title after motherhood, and it's also exciting to speculate on who can break through the pack to win", Tiley added.

"Serena will be back", Tiley told reporters in Melbourne.

The 2018 event, a warm-up for the Australian Open, runs from January 7-13.

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

The 2018 Open will offer record prizemoney of $55 million, with the men's and women's winners each to pocket a record $4 million.

Tiley said Williams was back in training to defend her title.


Serena holds the Open Era record for Grand Slams, 23, while Australia's Margaret Court holds the all-time record with 24. "Obviously, at training now, there is several months to go and it will be up to her as far as where she is with her fitness".

In the men's field Tiley confirmed six-time victor Novak Djokovic and fellow former world No.1 Andy Murray, who have both battled injury this year, would play in Melbourne 2018.

Tiley's announcement comes a month after Serena's coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, exclusively told Eurosport at the US Open that she was targeting her return for being in time for Melbourne.

Murray has been sidelined since July with a hip 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.

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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