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Serena Williams seeks to defend Australian Open title and earn larger cash prize

After being away from the WTA tour for much of this year, there’s a good chance that Serena Williams could make her return for the 2018 Australian Open, officials say.

Williams—who had left the tour on maternity leave—gave birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. on Sept. 1 and has since been training to regain competition fitness.

Last week, Australian Open director Craig Tiley said Williams is planning on playing in the tournament come Jan. 15.

“Serena will be back,” Tiley said during a Tuesday press conference. “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.”

Williams will even have the chance to win more prize money. In 2018, the prize money pool will increase to 55 million Australian dollars ($42.7 million) and the winner of the singles division will earn 4 million in Australian dollars (about 3.1 million American).

On the women’s side, the singles trophy will be presented by Billie Jean King who will be at the event commemorating her 50th anniversary of winning her first Australian Open title.

[More from Excelle Sports: Caroline Garcia upsets No. 1 Simona Halep to win China Open]

January is still a ways away and all eyes will be on Williams the 23 Grand Slam champion to see how she shapes up. Last year, she won the tournament while pregnant. But as King likes to say, “Pressure is a privilege.”

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