New mom Serena Williams is eyeing a return to tennis in time to defend her title at the Australian Open, but coach Patrick Mouratoglou won’t rush a comeback.
WTA Staff
September 8, 2017

Less than a month ago, new mom Serena Williams told the world about her “outrageous plan” to return to the tennis courts in 2018 to defend her Australian Open title - a feat that would take her Grand Slam total to an all-time record-tying 24 titles.

Now, a week after Serena gave birth to her first child, her coach Patrick Mouratoglou insists that the former World No.1 is sticking to that timeline.

"I'm incredibly happy for her,” Mouratoglou said in an interview with Eurosport. “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.”

Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams (Getty Images)
Serena Williams with Patrick Mouratoglou at the Australian Open. (Getty Images)

He added: "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.”

Both player and coach acknowledge that getting 35-year-old Serena Grand Slam ready by January will be a challenge - both physically and with the physiological weight of expectations. Serena previously told Vogue: "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.”

But while Coach Mouratoglou refuses to put any pressure on Serena’s comeback, he admits that returning to the top of the game will be difficult - but not impossible - for the 23-time Grand Slam champion.

"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.'"
Patrick Mouratoglou

"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,” he said. “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.

"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."