Serena Williams is plotting to return to tennis at next year's Australian Open - just four months after she is due to give birth to her first child. The American has been unwavering in her desire to resume her competitive career after she becomes a parent and has set an ambitious target regarding her comeback.
The 35-year-old's due date is in early September, giving her a matter of weeks to recover from giving birth and return to full fitness for the opening grand slam of 2018 which begins on 15 January. Serena will be bidding to become just the fourth women to win a major after having a child, with Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong and Kim Clijsters to other players to have achieved the feat.
"It's the most outrageous plan," she told Vogue. "I just want to put that out there. That's, like, three months after I give birth. I'm not walking anything back, but I'm just saying it's pretty intense. In this game you can go dark fast. 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."
Displays of fortitude having already littered Williams' career, having won the Australian Open - her 23rd grand slam singles title - last January during her first trimester. Just one behind Margaret Court's record of 24, Williams says the new chapter in her life has provided her with extra motivation to become the most successful women in tennis history.
"It's hard to figure out what the end of your tennis career should look like," said Williams, who is unaware of the gender of the baby she is having with fiance Alexis Ohanian. "I used to think I'd want to retire when I have kids, but no. I'm definitely coming back. Walking out there and hearing the crowd, it may seem like nothing. But there's no better feeling in the world.
"Obviously, if I have a chance to go out there and catch up with Margaret, I am not going to pass that up. If anything, this pregnancy has given me a new power."
Among the defining features of Williams' career has been her fiery demeanor on court which makes her one of the most intimidating players on the WTA Tour. And the four-time Olympic champion admits she may be forced to tone down her volatile behaviour upon becoming a mother.
I think people do love when I get angry—that's when the crowd cheers the hardest," she explained. "But now I'm like, OK, I'm going to be a mom next time I play. I need to not make the baby faces anymore."