Serena loses exhibition in return; uncertain on Aussie Open

Serena Williams said she is still uncertain if she will defend her title at next month’s Australian Open after losing an exhibition match against Jelena Ostapenko in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday.

It was the first competitive match in 11 months for Williams, who gave birth to her first child in September. Williams, 36, said she was pleased to win a set her return, losing 2-6, 6-3 and then 10-5 in a super tiebreaker in the 67-minute match.

It was Williams’ first competitive match since winning her 23rd major singles title at the Australian Open in January.

“I don’t think I am going to rate my performance,” the 22nd-ranked Williams told reporters after the match. “I have plenty of comebacks, from injuries, from surgeries, but I’ve never had a comeback after actually giving birth to a human being. So, in my eyes, I feel it was a wonderful, wonderful match for me.”

Williams has entered the 2018 Australian Open and tournament director Craig Tilley said earlier this month that it is “very likely” she will defend her title. However, Williams said on Saturday she is still deciding whether she is ready to return to tournament competition.

“I don’t know if I am totally ready to come back on the Tour yet,” she said. “I know that when I come back I definitely want to be competing for championships. I am definitely looking forward to getting back out there.

“I am taking it one day at a time. I am going to assess everything with my team before deciding.

Williams gave birth to Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. on Sept. 1, and married Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in November.

“I’m excited. It’s good to be back on court, this is such a good time for me,” Williams told Eurosport on Sunday. “Motherhood is phenomenal. I was a little worried out there – I looked at my camp and asked, ‘Is Olympia OK?”

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