Serena Williams hints at pregnancy with '20 weeks' post

Tennis great Serena Williams hinted on Tuesday that she's expecting her first child, posting a photo of herself on Snapchat captioned "20 weeks".

Serena Williams hasn't played since beating her sister Venus in the final of the Australian Open in January to clinch a record 23rd Grand Slam singles title.

Tennis great Serena Williams hinted on Wednesday that she's expecting her first child, posting a photo of herself on Snapchat captioned "20 weeks".

The photo, captured by US media, shows Williams in a yellow swimsuit with what appears to be a baby bump.

Widespread reports swiftly claimed the 35-year-old was pregnant with her first child, but Williams subsequently deleted the post.

Women's tennis governing body the WTA also removed their congratulations on Twitter, suggesting the post was either made in error, or that initial interpretations of the image were inaccurate.

The timing means that the 35-year-old American would have been pregnant when she won her record-setting 23rd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January -- where she beat her sister Venus in the final.

"The GOAT herself @serenawilliams took to Snapchat to announce she's 20 weeks pregnant! Congratulations Serena!" the US Tennis Association, organizers of the US Open, tweeted.

Fans, too, reacted with astonishment on social media.

"Serena Williams was pregnant when she won her 23rd grand slam tournament at the Australian Open. And did not drop ONE SET. Let that sink in," tweeted @noelleharmony.

Williams cited a knee injury in pulling out of tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami in March. Her inactivity saw her drop to second in the world rankings, but she is poised to return to regain the top spot from Germany's Angelique Kerber on Monday.

In December, Williams announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, first sharing that news on the Reddit social media site.

While pregnancy may spell the end of Williams's season, it doesn't mean she won't be back on court.

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

Australians Evonne Goolagong and Margaret Court also won Grand Slam titles after having children.

Former world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, 27, won the Indian Wells and Miami titles in March of last year before missing the rest of the season after announcing she was expecting a baby in December.

Since the birth of son Leo, Azarenka has returned to training and plans to return to competition at the WTA tournament in Stanford, California, in July.