Tennis star Serena Williams expecting baby this year

Serena Williams

Williams sent social media and the tennis world into frenzy on Wednesday when she posted a photo of herself on Snapchat with a caption that read simply "20 weeks" before the 23-time major victor deleted the post.

The 35-year-old tennis star posted the engagement on Reddit with a sweet poem and cartoon.

"I'm happy to confirm Serena is expecting a baby this Fall", Los Angeles-based publicist Kelly Bush Novak said in a statement emailed to AFP yesterday.

Her management told Reuters the American planned on returning to the tour next year - months after Williams turns 36 in September.

In December, she got engaged to Alexis Ohanian, and hasn't played since the Australian Open (which she won over Venus Williams).

Williams also recently posted pictures of herself vacationing in Jamaica, where she went ziplining.

Williams, 35, withdrew from ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events at Indian Wells and Miami last month citing a knee injury; she won the Australian Open by beating sister Venus on January 28.

The win meant she surpassed German Steffi Graf's 22 Grand Slam titles in the Open-era.

Serena's apparent baby bump, a post that was later deleted.

Fans and celebrities reacted with a mixture of awe and glee to Williams' Snapchat post.

Williams, who is 5 feet 9 inches (1.75 metres) and weighed 155 pounds (70 kg) according to her tennis association profile, won a 23rd Grand Slam tournament title at the Australian Open in January. And did not drop ONE SET. "Let that sink in", wrote Twitter user @noelleharmony.

In pregnancy, a woman's centre of gravity shifts forward to accommodate the growing fetus, which could affect Williams' stance. "Meanwhile, US Open Tennis responded to Williams' message by saying: "@serenawilliams will have a new pride & joy to hug and call her own soon! The photo was later deleted. "I really haven't thought about it too much, because I wasn't even really gonna think about it until after the tournament".

Belgium's Kim Clijsters came out of retirement at the age of 26 after having a child and won three Grand Slam titles.

Former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, 27, missed most of the 2016 season to have a baby and is expected to return to the tour this summer.

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