Serena Williams to play 1st competition since giving birth

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 21: Serena Williams of the United States serves in her third round match against Nicole Gibbs of the Unites States on day six of the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 21, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Serena Williams is returning to competition with an exhibition match Saturday in Abu Dhabi against French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Williams has not competed since winning the Australian Open last January while she was pregnant. She will face Latvia’s Ostapenko at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in the first year that women will be taking part, tournament organizers announced Sunday.

“I am delighted to be returning to the court in Abu Dhabi for the first time since the birth of my daughter in September,” the 36-year-old Williams said in a statement.

Williams has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, a record for the professional era. She is expected to compete for her 24th at the Australian Open, the first major of the year.

Williams gave birth to a girl named Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. on Sept. 1. She married Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in November.

“The Mubadala World Tennis Championship has long marked the beginning of the men’s global tennis season and I am excited and honored to be making my comeback as part of the first women to participate in the event,” Williams said.

The Australian Open starts Jan. 15.

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