Thu, Dec 06, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Serena, most top players to play at Australian Open


Serena Williams is to make her return to the Australian Open for the first time since winning last year when eight-weeks pregnant, with virtually all of the world’s top 100 players due at Melbourne Park.

That includes injury-prone Rafael Nadal of Spain and Britain’s Andy Murray.

Williams returned from giving birth to her first child to reach the Wimbledon and US Open finals, but suffered upset losses in both to leave her stuck on 23 major wins.

Australian Open organizers yesterday said that she was among the entries for the opening Grand Slam of the year as she attempts to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24.

Her appearance would mark her first major since a controversial rant at an umpire during the US Open final loss to Naomi Osaka, which overshadowed the Japanese star’s biggest-ever win.

In the aftermath, Roger Federer said that Williams “went too far.”

“Serena Williams, currently ranked 16, will make her highly anticipated return to Melbourne for the first time since winning in 2017 when eight-weeks pregnant with baby Alexis Olympia,” tournament organizer Craig Tiley said.

Evergreen Federer would be back to defend his title, along with long-time adversary Novak Djokovic.

Caroline Wozniacki is to defend the women’s crown.

The world’s top 102 women and top 101 men have all confirmed they would be playing, organizers said.

The only top-100 absentee from the women’s draw is 74th-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska, who last month announced her retirement.

“It’s always special to see our defending champions — Caroline [Wozniacki] had her first Grand Slam win here last year, so will be keen to start 2019 on a high,” Tiley said. “And of course Roger Federer has special memories of Melbourne, having won here six times, something only Novak [Djokovic] and Roy Emerson have done in the past.”

“I’ve been in touch with Rafa [Nadal] and he’s back to full fitness after cutting his season short after Paris and can’t wait to arrive in Australia,” he added.

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