Craig Tiley, the tournament director for the Australian Open, is confident Serena Williams "will be back" to defend her title in 2018.
The tennis icon won the 2017 edition of the competition while she was pregnant, and she gave birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. on September 1.
Speaking about the 36-year-old at a press conference confirming an increase in prize money for players taking part in the tournament, Tiley said Williams would be ready to play Down Under, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN).
"Serena will be back," he said. "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."
Per the competition’s official Twitter account, Tiley spoke of the affinity the competition shares with Williams:
As noted in the report, Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, has previously said she would be keen to return to the sport in 2018.
The record referred to by Tiley is that of the most Grand Slam singles titles won. Williams currently trails Australia’s Margaret Court, who won 24 major tennis competitions.
The final in Melbourne was the last match played by Williams, as she overcame her sister Venus to win the competition.
As noted by Liam Canning, considering she was expecting, the standard of performance she turned in was nothing short of extraordinary:
As things stand, Williams’ ranking has slipped to 24th in the world, with Simona Halep recently taking over at the top of the standings.
In addition to confirming Williams’ involvement, Tiley added "we'll have the full top 100 men and women returning" for the year’s first major. That seemingly includes Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, who both saw their 2018 campaigns disrupted by injury problems.