Serena will make a surprise comeback at the Mubadala exhibition event in Abu Dhabi next Saturday, as she gears up for her Australian Open title defence in January.

Serena Wiliams taken on January 25, 2017
Serena Wiliams taken on January 25, 2017 (AFP Archive)

Twenty-three-time grand slam champion Serena Williams will play her first match since the birth of her daughter when she faces off against French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi next week.

The match will be the 36-year-old Williams' first in almost a year as she prepares to try to defend her Australian Open crown in January, a title she captured earlier this year while pregnant.

"I am delighted to be returning to the court in Abu Dhabi for the first time since the birth of my daughter in September," Williams said in a statement on the championship's website.

Williams and Ostapenko will be the first women to participate in the 10th edition of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, which has long marked the beginning of the men's global tennis season.

"I am excited and honoured to be making my comeback as part of the first women to participate in the event," Williams added.

The championship runs from December 31 to January 2.

Source: Reuters