Serena Williams has announced she will withdraw from next month’s Australian Open, extending her long absence from the sport she ruled.
“I’m not where I need to be physically to compete,” Williams said in an announcement on Wednesday with the Australian Open. List of players entered for the 2022 tournament.
Seven-time Australian Open champion Williams is now 40 and hasn’t played on the WTA Tour since June 28, when she retired late in the first set of her opening match at Wimbledon with a right hamstring injury.
The injury was slow to recover, and also prevented Williams from competing in this year’s US Open. Williams did not specifically mention her hamstring injury in her statement on Wednesday, saying only that she decided to withdraw due to “the advice of my medical team.”
While Williams confirmed her absence, the Australian Open said Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 men’s singles player, Entered into the event, which is scheduled to begin January 17 in Melbourne.
The Victorian state government requires all players to be fully vaccinated to compete, and Djokovic in recent weeks has refused to reveal his vaccination status or confirm whether he will play in the Australian Open, where he won nine singles titles. But he is on the entry list, just a week after his father denounced the vaccination requirement as “These blackmails and conditionsHe suggested that his son would not play.
Williams said she was “excited to come back and compete at my highest level,” but it’s unclear when or if she will be able to hit that goal.
Williams, seeded 41, has not won a Grand Slam singles title in nearly five years: She won the Australian Open in January 2017 when she was two months pregnant with daughter Olympia. She returned to the tour in 2018 after the birth of Olympia and notably reached the singles finals at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2018 and again in 2019.
But despite winning her only tour title since returning in January 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand, she struggled to keep up the momentum. Showing flashes of strong form, she returned after a five-month pandemic hiatus in 2020 to reach the semi-finals of the US Open, where she lost a tight three-set duel against Victoria Azarenka. At this year’s Australian Open in February, Williams arrived in Melbourne in perfect physical shape and was fantastic in the first rounds but he was Defeated in straight sets by Naomi Osaka in the semi-finals.
The Australian Open has been the scene of some of Williams’ greatest successes. In 2003, she won her fourth consecutive singles title at the Grand Slam in Melbourne. In 2005, she saved three match points in the semi-finals in a classic match against Maria Sharapova and went on to beat Lindsay Davenport in the final. In 2007, she entered the tournament unranked and swept the title. In 2017, she won while pregnant without dropping a set.
But it is now unclear if she will return to the championship as she has won seven of her 23 Grand Slam titles: less than Margaret Court’s record.
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