| By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff

The Australian Open held a news conference on Tuesday to announce an increase in prize money for next year’s tournament, tournament director Craig Tiley indicated that defending women’s singles champion Serena Williams expects to be there.

“Serena will be back,” said Tiley. “We look forward to welcoming her and again go on that journey of breaking the all-time record for the most number of Grand Slams.”

Serena holds the Open Era record for Grand Slams, 23, while Australia’s Margaret Court holds the all-time record with 24. She was pregnant at the time of last year’s Australian Open, and still managed to win the tournament, defeating her older sister, Venus, in the final.

Tiley announced that the overall prize money of the tournament will increase by about 10 percent, to $55 million Australian dollars, about 42.7 million American dollars, with the men’s and singles champions to earn about $3.1 million, an increase of about 20 percent.

Tiley also confirmed that Novak Djokovic, a six-time champion, Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will all be back to compete in Melbourne.

“I’ve been in contact with all the top players,” he said. “And am pleased to announce we’ll have the full top 100 men and women returning to the Australian Open.”