Tennis

Serena Williams expecting first baby

Serena Williams is expecting a baby this year, her spokesman confirmed yesterday morning (Singapore time), hours after the American hinted at the news in a Snapchat post.

"I'm happy to confirm Serena is expecting a baby this Fall," publicist Kelly Bush Novak said in a statement.

While Williams won't play again this year, "she looks forward to returning in 2018", Bush Novak said.

Williams' Snapchat post showed the 35-year-old in a yellow swimsuit that revealed an apparent baby bump.

But the post was quickly taken down, lending an air of mystery to its meaning.

The Women's Tennis Association deleted a congratulatory tweet and acknowledged in a statement they did not have confirmation of the news. It was hours before they could tweet: "It's official! @SerenaWilliams and @AlexisOhanian are expecting a baby this fall."

In December, Williams announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

SET TO REGAIN TOP SPOT

If she 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.

Williams' inactivity in recent months saw her drop to second in the world rankings, but she is set to regain top spot on Monday when the latest standings are published.

With almost US$29 million (S$41m) in salary and sponsorship earnings, Williams was ranked the top-paid female athlete in the world last year by Forbes magazine.

Sponsorship industry executives said that a pregnant Williams makes her even more attractive to corporate sponsors, allowing her reach to extend into maternity products.

"You take a brand name and you add pregnancy to it, you get a happy story," said Gary Fechter, an attorney who has represented companies in sponsorship deals.

"This just makes her more valuable." - WIRE SERVICES

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