SERENA Williams is “very likely” to resume her glittering grand slam career at the upcoming Australian Open.
Speculation has been rife that the American — who claimed this year’s title, becoming the first player to win a grand slam while pregnant after it was later revealed she was carrying daughter Alexis Olympia who was born in September — would return to tennis at the January tournament.
Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou said last week that nothing has been decided about her 2018 return to the court as the 23-time grand slam champion continues to build her fitness.
But Tiley today declared that Williams’ return to tennis in Melbourne is “very likely”.
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“She’s got her visa, she’s entered, she’s practicing and she’s probably just got to find a bit more space for a bigger entourage,” he said.
And he is confident that she will be ready.
“There’s no question that she’ll be ready in our view and she wants to break a record that is Margaret Court’s,” he said.
“It would be a pretty significant accomplishment for her to be able to do that.”
Tiley said the Australian Open is a “family friendly event”, citing Roger Federer as an example of a player who travels with his family.
“We’d be pretty excited about the possibility (of her coming),” he said.
“The entry list – which I saw last night – has the top 100 men and women, so it’s a great field again.”
The tournament’s wildcard playoff starts on Monday, with players outside the top 100 given the chance to win a berth.
Officials remained unsure whether Australian Bernard Tomic — ranked 142 — would contest the playoff, with the entry list to be finalised today.
“It’s an ongoing conversation,” Tiley said.
“Bernard’s got an open invitation from Lleyton (Hewitt) to come and play … and we hope he does.
“Bernie will have a couple of opportunities (to qualify).
“Anything is possible.”
Davis Cup captain Hewitt said that he had not spoken to Tomic, 25, about his plans, but said it would be “the right move” given his limited preparation.
Tennis great John Newcombe last week urged Tomic to take a break from tennis.
“It depends what mental state he’s in,” Hewitt said.
“If he’s committed to the sport and he’s out there training and doing all the right things and the one percenters, he’s fine to get out there and keep pushing through.
“We all know how talented he is — he’s just got to get that confidence back on the match court. But if he’s not fully committed, it’s not an easy sport to just go in week-in, week-out.”
The Australian Open yesterday announced a collaboration with the NBL, with punters able to purchase a ticket to both the Australian Open and Melbourne United’s clash with Cairns on January 24.
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