Serena Williams drops hint over potential return on Instagram

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Serena Williams has been away from the court since April for the birth of her daughter in but the sporting world has been highly anticipating her glorious return to the centre stage - and it might be closer than you think.

Her latest Instagram post on Monday has heavily implied that she is ready to make her comeback and could in fact return to defend her Australian Open crown, 12 months after winning it for the seventh time.

The superhuman Serena managed to finish this season with a world ranking of 22, despite not actually competing for almost the entire year.

It was she suggested the 36-year-old had always intended to return in 2018 all being well, however, not many were expecting Melbourne Park to be the first event on the calendar.

The image Williams posted may look innocuous enough - just a picture of some very shiny Nike shoes.

But it was the caption which really made tennis fans sit up and take notice.

"Be excited, Be very excited..."

Don't worry Serena, everyone is definitely excited.

The 36-year-old athlete is yet to officially confirm whether the mid-January major will be her monumental return date, but this is certainly the biggest hint yet.

Last week, the Australian Open tournament director, Craig Tiley said Williams was 'very likely' to feature.

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“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,” he revealed.

Serena's current major trophy cabinet stands at being one away from Australian icon Margaret Court, who won 24 major trophies during her era of dominance, including 11 Australian Opens.

Nonetheless, with the major records of Steffi Graff now surpassed, there will be plenty of supporters hoping Williams can surpass Court's Grand Slam record next year.

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