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New mum Serena targets Oz title defence


By Sam Lovett

Serena Williams, the current Australian Open champion, is set to defend her title in Melbourne next month, according to tournament director Craig Tiley.

The former World No.1 gave birth to her first child in September and has not played since winning in Melbourne at the start of the year, when she was 20 weeks pregnant.

Williams is now in the process of working towards a return for the 2018 season, with intentions to compete at Melbourne Park.

Tiley revealed that the 23-time Grand Slam champion has entered the tournament with the target of eventually surpassing Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.

He said: "She's got her visa, she's entered, she's practising and she's probably just got to find a bit more space for a bigger entourage.

"There's no question that she'll be ready in our view and she wants to break a record that is Margaret Court's.

"It would be a pretty significant accomplishment."

Williams earlier this year said that she has outlined a schedule for her return.

"It's the most outrageous plan," the American said.

"I just want to put that out there. That's, like, three months after I give birth. I'm just saying it's pretty intense.

"If I lose and I lose again, it's like, 'she's done'. Especially since I'm not 20 years old. I'll tell you this much: I won't win less. Either I win, or I don't play."

Meanwhile, Johanna Konta has appointed Michael Joyce as her new coach.

The British No.1 has been looking for a replacement for Wim Fissette since they parted company in October and has turned to the 44-year-old who used to coach Maria Sharapova.

Joyce will be in Konta's camp for the first tournament of the new season in Brisbane, starting on January 1.

"Michael is a fantastic coach with a great pedigree and I'm really excited to work with him," she said.

"The plan is for Michael to travel with me full-time through 2018."

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