Serena Williams set to launch comeback in Abu Dhabi

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

Serena Williams will make her return to tennis just under fourth months after giving birth when she takes to the court in an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi.

The decision to play in the United Arab Emirates should virtually confirm Williams' participation at Melbourne Park. Williams, who hasn't played competitive tennis since the birth of her daughter, will face off against reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko on Saturday.

Williams, who married Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian last month, said in a statement that she was "delighted to be returning to the court in Abu Dhabi".

Dubai-based Sport360 and The National newspaper that the 36-year-old American would face another women's grand slam victor at the special event which starts on Thursday.

Williams' comeback raises the prospect of a renewal of her one-sided rivalry with Maria Sharapova, after the Russian's own comeback earlier this year from a doping ban.

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The Mubadala tournament comes ahead of next month's Australian Open, where Williams is expected to defend her title.

Since the Australia Open in January.

Two athletes have withdrawn from the Mubadala event: the men's world No. 1 player, Rafael Nadal, and the three-time Grand Slam victor Stan Wawrinka.

Rafael Nadal, Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka have, however, pulled out of the tournament in Abu Dhabi.

Djokovic, a 12-time Grand Slam champion, has not played competitively since his quarterfinal loss in July to Tomas Berdych at Wimbledon because of an elbow injury.

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