Australian Open organisers remain hopeful about new mom Serena Williams’ stunning return on the tennis court in January as they raised the winners’ prize money to Aus $4 million (US$3.1 million) on Tuesday.
Last month, Serena had revealed that she has set an ‘outrageous’ goal for making a comeback at the Australian Open, something which will push her Grand Slam total to an all-time record-tying 24 titles.
Williams, who won this year’s Grand Slam title at the Melbourne Park, while she was pregnant, is hoping to make a return just four-and-a-half months after giving birth to her baby girl.
Talking about her return, tournament director Craig Tiley said that all 100 top men and women had given their consent to play in Melbourne – which also includes the American star, who is currently ranked 24th in the world.
Tiley further revealed that the former world number one is focussed on making a return in the Australia Open, while also pointing out that the tournament coincidentally has the same initials as her daughter, Alexis Olympia.
“Her baby’s initials are AO and she’s suggested she should also have her name on the 2017 trophy, so the AO is well and truly top of mind for her at the moment,” Sport24 quoted Tiley, as saying.
“If anyone can do it, she can and I’m certainly not counting her out of a return come January,” he added.
Injured former world number ones Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray as well as Japan’s Kei Nishikori and Swiss star Stan Wawrinka, are all set to be back in action in time for the season’s opening Grand Slam in January.