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20 April 2017, 11:35 | Justin Tyler
Serena Williams is 20 weeks pregnant. Pic Getty
Serena Williams posts on Snapchat "20 weeks".
Former world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, 27, won the Indian Wells and Miami titles in March of a year ago before missing the rest of the season after announcing she was expecting a baby in December.
Earlier in the day, Williams posted a photo of herself on Snapchat with the caption "20 weeks", sparking all sorts of speculation on social media about whether she was, indeed, with child. The photo was later deleted.
The spokeswoman, Kelly Bush Novak, told Reuters that Williams "is definitely not able to play in 2017 and she looks forward to returning in 2018".
"I'm happy to confirm Serena is expecting a baby this fall", she said. However, it is to note too that Williams withdrew from the NP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California over claims of a knee injury.
On the basis of that timescale it means that Williams won the Australian Open in January - her 23rd grand slam singles title - in the first few weeks of her pregnancy.
For Williams, who commands almost $29 million in salary and sponsorship earnings, becoming pregnant makes her all the more attractive to corporate sponsors, industry executives said.
"Because that's technically a doubles match."Williams, the world's highest paid female athlete, announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian last December".
A congratulatory tweet from the Women's Tennis Association was also deleted. "A pregnant woman dominated them". Only one woman has won more: Margaret Smith Court, who claimed part of her 24 during the amateur era.
While Williams could conceivably choose to continue playing tennis through her pregnancy (track athlete Alysia Montano continued training throughout her pregnancy and ran the 800-meter at the us track and field championships while almost eight months pregnant), Williams' absence from the tour so far indicates she might not return to competition until after the birth of her child-if she even wants to come back at all.
The younger Williams sister is just one Grand Slam short of Margaret Court, who collected many of hers in an era when the difficulties of global travel often diluted the fields.
Court played in her last Grand Slam tournament at 33.
Sister Venus, 36, has won seven Grand Slam singles titles.
But the points she has accumulated in the four major events - she is the reigning champion at the Australian Open and Wimbledon and was a finalist at last year's French Open - have allowed her to remain in the top two in the rankings.
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