Andy Murray & Serena Williams 'Will Be Back' At Australian Open - Tournament Boss

Even during her pregnancy, Williams remained active, training on the court as often as possible with the idea of returning to the Australian Open in 2018.

Murray started the year as the world number one for the first time.

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. "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", he said.

After giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Williams said that her baby's initials - A.O. - were a nod to the Australian Open.

And Australian Open organisers confirmed she is still pushing to return to the WTA Tour in Melbourne Park. This year she was eight weeks pregnant when she triumphed over her sister Venus in Melbourne.

"How much would this year have hurt him, to watch over the entire year Roger [Federer] and Rafa [Nadal] share four Grand Slam titles - he would not have liked that".

Williams has captured 23 Grand Slam singles titles, one more than Steffi Graf for the Open-era record.

"We have a special relationship with Serena, the Williams family, both her and Venus".

"She wants to come back in 2018 and defend her title", Tiley said.

"I've been in contact with all the top players", he said.

"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.

But Tiley is expecting to welcome back a host of stars, including Williams, when the Australian Open gets underway on January 15. "We look forward to welcoming her and again go on that journey of breaking the all-time record for the most number of grand slams".

The 36-year-old would be competing for a tournament record A$4 million ($3.11 million) winner's purse in 2018, with total prize money hiked 10 percent to A$55 million.

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