Will Serena play the Australian Open?
The coach of the record 23-time grand slam champion says a decision will only be made after an upcoming training session in Florida. Follow @cnnsportWilliams won this year's Australian Open in the early stages of pregnancy and then stepped away from the game.She gave birth to daughter Alexis in early September before getting married to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in New Orleans two weeks ago in a lavish ceremony attended by the likes of music superstars Beyonce and Jay Z and actress Eva Longoria. READ: Serena ties the knot
'Back in shape'
Last month Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley claimed the 36-year-old was on track to defend her title in Melbourne — saying "Serena will be back" for the year's first major that begins January 15 — but her coach Patrick Mouratoglou told CNN that nothing has been decided. "Serena is getting ready for 2018," said Mouratoglou, who runs a tennis academy near Nice, France and is also a television analyst. "She is practicing and getting back in shape. I will be joining her soon in Florida. "We will see how her body is reacting and how her tennis level is and we will take a decision regarding Australia."Williams told CNN in July she was intending to return to tennis — echoing the words of her spokespeople — and if the American does show up in Melbourne, it would come about four-and-a-half months after she gave birth. Last year two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka — one of the few players who has routinely tested Williams on a tennis court — came back about six months after giving birth to son Leo. Azarenka hasn't played since Wimbledon, however, after becoming embroiled in a child custody battle, missing the US Open and this month's Fed Cup final in which her Belarus team lost 3-2 at home to the United States.
'Year of the comeback'
Williams — now ranked 22nd — already holds the Open Era record for grand slam victories. Getting to 24 would tie her with Australia's Margaret Court, who holds the all-time record. If Williams doesn't compete at the Australian Open, perhaps a return could come at Indian Wells, California or Miami, the two biggest tournaments in the first quarter of the season outside grand slams. Both are held in March. Williams lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and has won the Miami Open — one of her favorite tournaments — a record eight times. Even if there is no definite date for Williams' return at the moment, 2018 is shaping up to be the year of the comeback in tennis. Alongside Williams and Azarenka, fellow grand-slam winners Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka are all scheduled to resurface after being hit by injuries and not playing since Wimbledon in July. Visit cnn.com/tennis for more news and videosThey'll be joined by grand-slam finalists Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic.