Serena Williams returned to action in 2018, just six months after giving birth to daughter Alexis Olympia and played in seven singles events during the course of the season.

The 23-time women’s singles Grand Slam champion was competitive, almost immediately as she made the last 16 at the French Open before pulling out of her match due to injury – she then followed it up with back-to-back major final appearances at Wimbledon and the US Open.

Williams did suffer one of her worst defeats to Johanna Konta during the hard court season, but making two Grand Slam finals less than a year after giving birth is a commendable feat for an athlete. At Wimbledon she was bested by Germany’s Angelique Kerber, while her US Open women’s singles final was not so straight forward.

The 37-year-old was part of probably the biggest controversy tennis has witnessed in recent memory after she had an altercation with chair umpire Carlos Ramos during her loss to Naomi Osaka, who became the first Japanese player to win a major title. Williams’ on court meltdown that saw her label the official a ‘sexist’ and a ‘thief’ saw a major debate breakout about sexism in the sport which split the tennis world with many backing the tennis legend while an equal number criticized her for her actions.

Serena Williams
Serena Williams made two Grand Slam finals in 2018. In this picture, Williams of the United States reacts after her defeat in the Women's Singles finals match to Naomi Osaka of Japan on Day Thirteen of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Despite the fall out, the American, who is no doubt one of the greatest players to ever play the game, was proud of her 2018 season and revealed recently that it went “beyond her expectations”. She also revealed that her 2018 results gave her a lot of hope for the upcoming 2019 season.

"Honestly, I cannot believe the year I had," Williams told The National. "I have to say I always expect the best from myself, but reaching two grand slam finals back to back was beyond my expectations."

"It truly makes me excited for what's ahead in 2019," she added. "I always have crazy big goals but I like to keep them to myself. I think keeping them a bit of a secret helps me do the best I can."

Williams will begin her campaign unofficially at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi where she will face her sister Venus before heading off to Australia to take part in the Hopman Cup, where she will come up against fellow tennis legend Roger Federer in a mixed doubles match.

The 23-time major champion official campaign will get underway in Melbourne at the Australian Open, where she will be looking to win a record eighth title, which will also ensure that she beats Margaret Court’s record to become the all-time leader in terms of Grand Slam titles won by a woman.