Australian Open

‘If anyone can do it, she can’: Australian Open organisers confident of Serena return

The 36-year-old won this year’s edition while pregnant, and has spoken of her ‘outrageous’ plans to play in Melbourne in 2018

Australian Open organisers said they were hopeful of a stunning return by new mum Serena Williams in January as they raised the winners’ prize money to a bumper Aus$4 million (Rs 20.3 crore) on Tuesday.

Injured former world No 1s Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, along with Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka, are set to be back in action in time for the season’s opening Grand Slam in January.

Williams won this year’s Australian Open while pregnant, and she has spoken of her “outrageous” plans to play in Melbourne in 2018 – just four-and-a-half months after giving birth to her baby girl.

Tournament director Craig Tiley said all 100 top men and women had confirmed they intended to play in Melbourne – which includes Williams, who is currently ranked 24th.

He added that the 36-year-old’s mind was firmly fixed on the tournament, which coincidentally has the same initials as her daughter, Alexis Olympia.

“Her baby’s initials are AO and she’s suggested she should also have her name on the 2017 trophy, so the AO is well and truly top of mind for her at the moment,” he said at the event’s official launch in Melbourne.

“If anyone can do it, she can and I’m certainly not counting her out of a return come January.”

Tiley also told the Melbourne Age: “She wants to come back in 2018 and defend her title. Obviously, at training now, there is several months to go. It will be up to her as far as where she is with her fitness.”

Some former stars have wondered whether the 23-time Grand Slam winner would be able to bounce back so soon after giving birth, and if she does, whether she will be able to regain top form.

‘I still pinch myself’

Roger Federer marked a stunning comeback from injury by beating old rival Rafael Nadal to win his 18th Grand Slam in an epic five-set final this year, while Serena beat her sister, Venus, in the women’s decider.

Federer and Nadal ended up with two major titles each this year, while the women had four different champions – Williams, Jelena Ostapenko (French Open), Garbine Muguruza (Wimbledon), and Sloane Stephens (US Open).

“I still pinch myself. When I’m home sometimes, having a glass of champagne with my friends and family we say ‘this is for the Australian Open, cheers’,” Federer said recently, according to an Australian Open statement.

“We’re still joking about it, it was a crazy moment in my life... we couldn’t believe it, all the five-setters. The rivalry with Rafa, being down 3-1 in the fifth, it was disbelief.

“I hope it’s going to be another dream, magical run where I can just enjoy the atmosphere and play for the people,” he added of the 2018 event.

Tiley said it was shaping up as a fascinating men’s tournament with Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka and Nishikori all returning, but with much lower world rankings.

“I’m sure they are all inspired by what Roger and Rafa achieved here in January, and what they’ve gone on to achieve -– splitting the Grand Slam titles between them this year,” he said.

Whoever wins next year will walk away with Aus$4 million, up from Aus$3.7 million last year. The total tournament purse has risen 10% percent to Aus$55 million (Rs 25.4 crore).

This year’s US Open winners walked away with $3.7 million (Rs 24.2 crore), while the French Open offered 2.1 million euros (Rs 16.1 crore) and Wimbledon paid out £2.2 million (Rs 19 crore).

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Inspiration for the lazy, the casual and the gourmet home chefs alike

Discover, or rediscover the daily delight in food, one ingredient at a time.

It is known that home chefs can be arranged in a pyramid - the lazy ones at the bottom, the casual cooks in the middle and the gourmet experts at the top. While the challenges differ with each level, great solutions exist to make every meal an experience, regardless of the kind of cook you are. This guide to creating delightful food has something for everyone.

The lazy, hassled home chefs

You can ease into cooking by putting together meals that require minimal technique. Salads are a good place to start. Experiment with seasonal and exotic fruits and vegetables, tender vegetables and herbs, and artisanal breads as sides for a fresh, healthy and surprisingly gourmet experience.

Don’t be dismayed if you’re a non-vegetarian. There are still meals that require next-to-no prep. Think sausages that can easily be fried or grilled and cold cuts that pack a flavour punch. Health-conscious people can look for additive-free, preservative-free meat, bromate free bread and produce from free-range farms for assurance of quality. For variety, you can even put together a great Middle Eastern platter with fresh hummus and other dips.

For the casual cooks looking to impress

So, you can cook a decent meal but are looking to give your food that X-factor? To liven up regular dishes, experiment with superfoods which make your meals nutritious and novel. Try combinations like oats chila, quinoa or couscous upmas or a sprinkle of chia seeds in your breakfast pudding. Look for quality imports and efficient distribution for maximum retention of nutrients in superfoods.

Skilled enough to host people? An upgrade from basic ingredients is the most visible sign of your culinary progression. Experiment with exotic herbs like parsley, rosemary and sage as garnishing for intriguing flavours in your soups and salads. For lip-smacking desserts, use exotic fruits like kiwi, dragon fruit, acai berries and rambutan – your guests will be delighted.

For the perfectionist gourmet chefs

You’re quite the culinary expert in your circles, but want to leap to the next level? At the core of a successful gourmet creation lie the best ingredients. Seek a delicatessen which gives you only the freshest and most diverse range of ingredients. You’ll notice the difference in flavours as you move from garlic powder to actual garlic, and from chilli powder to real paprika in your preparations.

From the basic to the exotic, whatever ingredients you seek to implement the tips we just gave you are available at Godrej Nature’s Basket, the best store for fresh, quality ingredients. As the video below shows, their online and offline stores source and serves a wide variety of foods - fruits & vegetables, authentic delicatessen, the finest meats, irresistible bakery products, ready-to-cook sauces, healthy snacks and more.

Play

Health-conscious people can also be assured of unmatched quality. You can choose from pesticide free offerings, organic fruits and vegetables, steroid-free meats, first catch of the day fish and seafood, bromate free bread and the best dairy and cheese from all over the world.

With their collection of hors d’oeuvre, artisanal breads, confectionary and desserts, there’s really no limit to what you can achieve daily in your kitchen. What’s more, all these high-quality products come at great, affordable prices.

To elevate your cooking and discover a world where food is a delight every day, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Godrej Nature’s Basket and not by the Scroll editorial team.