Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka, who has been locked in a custody battle over her baby son that has prevented her from playing on the WTA Tour since Wimbledon, has been awarded a wildcard into the Australian Open.
Tournament director Craig Tiley said every assistance would be provided to the former world number one so she can compete at the Melbourne event where she has achieved her greatest success.
"Vika's current situation is obviously very difficult for her and we have reached out to offer any support we can," Tiley said.
"As a two-time Australian Open champion we've awarded her a wildcard and look forward to seeing her back on court in Melbourne in January."
Azarenka unable to leave California due to custody case
Azarenka returned from maternity leave in the middle of the year but was forced to skip the US Open in August after a Los Angeles judge presiding in a custody case over her son Leo ruled the child could not leave California until the matter had been settled.
Azarenka, who has slipped down the rankings to be world number 210, said she was looking forward to returning to the opening Grand Slam of the year.
"I'm so excited about coming back to Melbourne for the Australian Open, it's my favourite tournament," the 2012 and 2013 champion said. "I've won there twice and always feel so comfortable on court and the city is great.
"It's been a tough year and being able to come back to the Australian Open will be a really positive way to start 2018. I'd like to thank Craig and his team for their understanding and support and can't wait to see all my Aussie fans again."
Serena Williams is also expected to make her comeback in Melbourne to defend her title after taking time out from the Tour in 2017 to give birth to her first child.