Tourney director: Serena Williams 'very likely' to defend Australian Open title
Defending Australian Open champion Serena Williams looks "very likely" to make her competitive return to tennis in Melbourne, according to tournament director Craig Tiley.
Despite coach Patrick Mouratoglou telling CNN last week that Williams would only make her mind up after an upcoming training session in Florida, Tiley remains confident that this year's field will include the seven-time champion.
Talking to the Herald Sun, Tiley said: "She's got her visa, she's entered, she's practicing 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 for her to be able to do that."
Given that the Australian Open has amply demonstrated its family friendly credentials with Roger Federer often having his family of four children at major events, Tiley continued:
"We'd be pretty excited about the possibility [of her coming]. The entry list -- which I saw last night -- has the top 100 men and women, so it's a great field again."
Williams, who was pregnant with her daughter Alexis when she won the Australian Open this year, is now just one Slam short of equalling Margaret Court's record of 24 titles, and could be aiming for an Open era record eighth title in Melbourne.