At 36 years of age, Serena Williams' priorities have changed over the last year or so. First, she got engaged to Reddit's co-founder, Alexis Ohanian. Winning her 23rd Grand Slam in singles in Melbourne put her in front of Steffi Graf for the first time and at the top of Open Era's leaderboard. There is only one milestone to reach as Margaret Court is still leading in that surreal all-time counter having won 24 Grand Slam titles. According to ESPN, it seems that Serena Williams will travel to Melbourne in January 2018 in an attempt to level Court's numbers while defending her Aussie crown.

The tournament organizers are confident that the former WTA world No. 1 will be able to play in Australia. Let's not forget that she gave birth earlier this year on September 1 and to have her up and running a few months later would be something extraordinary by default.

Serena Williams' absence has been a major factor for the WTA Tour

As the American tennis superstar decided to step off the stage, a certain state of disarray started to mount within the women's tennis. As a consequence, the world No. 1 seat changed its owner four times. One by one, Angelique Kerber, Karolina Pliskova, Garbine Muguruza and the latest Simona Halep put their grip on the WTA summit. And none of them has managed to deliver something huge while at the top.

The current world No. 1 Simona Halep will have her chance to prove otherwise at the WTA Finals in Singapore, the last WTA showdown of the year.

Over the past few years, Serena Williams had a double role to play. She used to be the definition of dominance while at the same time provided the women's tennis with a certain balance.

Once she got off the stage, things went off the rail pretty quick.

What to expect from Serena Williams in 2018

If she makes her comeback at the 2018 Australian Open, Serena has only one option which is to try to defend her title. Any other outcome would sink her ranking making her comeback work a lot tougher. Practically, her ranking position relies on the 2017 Australian Open title alone.

Moreover, she must be prepared for a tough draw and the possibility of some early blockbusters. Maria Sharapova or Viktoria Azarenka are expected to compete in Melbourne while their unseeded status would make them a danger to any other top player. But first, Serena needs to rely on a perfect physical condition. Without a fit body, her game will certainly take a hit and be damaged by it.

If things don't go as previously planned and Williams suffers an early exit she will see her ranking melt downward. Furthermore, she would have to ask for wild-cards to continue to be featured at the upcoming WTA events.