Serena Williams has dropped a big hint that she could soon be back on court competing, posting an Instagram photo of a pair of dazzling gold and white tennis shoes.
Williams, who won her 23rd grand slam singles title at last year's Australian Open before taking time out to have her first child, has entered next month's tournament in Melbourne.
"Be excited. Be very excited..." the 36-year-old said in the post which attracted 135,000 likes in the space of an hour.
The suggestive post sent fans into a frenzy, with many rejoicing at the news that she's back on court.
The Queen Is Here! #24 pic.twitter.com/GPwKic6FGv— 🎄This Christmas 🎁 (@RealGemini18) December 11, 2017
So excited sis! Come through Champ! pic.twitter.com/I8GMh5Vs3n— Irregular Verb (@SuperStarShar23) December 11, 2017
So happy you’re back 😊— Malika Zerguine (@ZerguineM) December 11, 2017
OMG IT’S HAPPENING!!— Rena’s MARRIED!!!❤️ (@RenaAddict23) December 11, 2017
Williams gave birth to Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr in September and was married to Alexis Ohanian last month.
Few female players have won grand slams after taking a break to start a family, although Kim Clijsters won the 2009 US Open in her third tournament back after having a daughter.
Australians Evonne Goolagong and Margaret Court also managed it.
Court's 24 grand slam singles titles remains a record although only 11 of them were in the professional era.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley last week said Williams is “very likely” to return to tennis at next year’s Open.
“She’s got her visa, she’s entered, she’s practicing and she’s probably just got to find a bit more space for a bigger entourage,” Tiley said.
Next year’s Australian Open begins on January 15.