'Incredibly happy' Serena Williams targets Australian Open return, says coach Patrick Mouratoglou
Serena Williams is ready to make her comeback in Australia in January as she bids for a record 24th Grand Slam, according to her coach Patrick Mouratoglou in an exclusive interview with Eurosport.
Williams, 35, gave birth to a baby girl in West Palm Beach, Florida last week, but is already plotting a return to the sport at the outset of 2018, the Frenchman told Eurosport.
The American has already told Vogue magazine last month about her "outrageous plan" to defend her title in Australia, where the year's first Grand Slam will be played from January 15-28.
Serena Williams of the US poses with the women's singles trophy after winning her final match.Reuters
“I just want to put that out there," she said. "That’s, like, three months after I give birth. I’m not walking anything back, but I’m just saying it’s pretty intense.”
Williams, the world's highest-paid female athlete, was about two months pregnant when she captured her 23rd Slam singles title at the Australian Open this year, one short of the all-time record held by Australian Margaret Court.
"I'm lucky enough to work for probably the most exciting player of all time," Mouratoglou told Eurosport.
"Who would be your ideal player to work with, I would have to say Serena. First of all, she is in a good place at the moment.
"She is incredibly happy, and is looking forward to building a family. That was something that was so important to her, and she made it. It is a new era for her.
"There are two lives for women. Before having a family, and when you start having a family. She is in a different mindset, and I'm sure she is going to be an incredible mother. I'm sure about that."
"I'm incredibly happy for her. When she called me to tell me she was pregnant, in the same sentence she said: 'I am pregnant, but... I'm not finished with tennis and I want you to wait for me.'
"She says she still has things to achieve in tennis. She is both a tennis player and a mother, and she has to deal with both of them. She wants to be able to win Slams otherwise she will stop.
"Because she is a champion, it is very difficult when you are used to being at the top of the game to accept being more average with all the respect I have for the players. That is the great challenge for the next months, year and maybe years. We will see.
"The idea is to come back to practice as soon as she is ready. Having a baby is not a small thing so you have to give your body time to recover from that. When her body is back to normal, we have to rebuild her physically and her tennis. And get ready as soon as possible.
"She told me a few months ago that her goal was to play the Australian Open. I told her: 'Listen, if you are ready, you will play it. If you are not ready, no problem. No pressure.'"
"As soon as we feel she is ready to compete, she will. If that is Australia, that's great. If it's a bit later, that's fine.
"For Serena, anything is possible. I cannot put any kind of limit on her. Any time I've thought she won't make it, she did. Which I don't do any more."
Other women have left the tour to have children and returned at a high level, although none has done so at Williams' age.
Kim Clijsters of Belgium retired and had a child before coming back at age 26 and winning three Grand Slam titles.