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Serena Williams takes season off as she confirms pregnancy

Serena Williams is expecting her first child. The most decorated tennis player of all time will take the rest of the year off but hopes to return to the tour in 2018.

Serena Williams is expecting a baby and will not play again this year - but aims to return to the women's tour in 2018.

The 35-year-old posted a picture of herself on Snapchat captioned "20 weeks" and her publicist made an official announcement.

"I'm happy to confirm Serena is expecting a baby this fall," the publicist said in a statement.

While Williams won't play again this year, "she looks forward to returning in 2018," it added.

Williams' social media post showed the 35-year-old in a yellow swimsuit that revealed the baby bump, although the post was quickly taken down.

In December, Williams announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, first sharing that news on the Reddit social media site.

If Williams is 20 weeks into her pregnancy, that means she was already expecting when she won her record-setting 23rd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January - where she beat her elder sister Venus in the final.

Williams hasn't played since that Australian Open triumph, which saw her surpass Steffi Graf for the most Grand Slam singles titles in the Open Era.

Only Australian Margaret Court has won more, capturing 24. The last of those came in 1973 - the year after Court gave birth to a son.

Williams cited a knee injury in pulling out of tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami in March.

Her inactivity saw her drop to second in the world rankings. But she is set to regain the top spot from Germany's Angelique Kerber on Monday when the latest standings are published.

mds/mf (AFP)

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