New York - Serena Williams is targeting a return to
competitive tennis next January to defend her Australian Open title, but two
former stars who became parents question her ability to regain top form so soon
Williams gave birth to a baby daughter on September 1 and
would be trying to be ready for play when next year's first Grand Slam event
gets under way on January 15 on the Melbourne hard-courts.
Asked if that was a realistic timetable for a comeback,
three-time US Open champion Kim Clijsters was dubious. And she retired for two
years and had a baby before returning and winning her 2009 crown in New York.
"To me, it wasn't when I had Jada," said Belgian
Clijsters. "It all depends. If you set your mind to it, maybe."
One unknown factor about Williams is how taxing the delivery
was upon her.
"Depends how the labour and birth went," Clijsters
said. "How your body reacts - everybody reacts different in those
American Mary Joe Fernandez, a runner-up at the 1990 and
1992 Australian Opens and 1993 French Open, noted that Williams, a 23-time
Grand Slam singles champion, has been defying the odds for years.
"Maybe see her there," she said. "I couldn't
have done it. Serena is an exception to a lot of rules."
Williams is one slam crown shy of matching the all-time
record of 24 major Slam singles titles won by Australia's Margaret Court.