Serena Williams has introduced her withdrawal from subsequent month’s Australian Open, extending her absence from the game that she lengthy dominated.
“I am not where I need to be physically to compete,” Williams stated in an announcement on Wednesday because the Australian Open launched the list of entered players for the 2022 event.
Williams, a seven-time Australian Open singles champion, is now 40 years outdated and has not performed on the WTA Tour since June 28, when she retired late within the first set of her opening spherical match at Wimbledon due to an injured proper hamstring.
The damage was sluggish to heal, and it additionally stored Williams from competing on this 12 months’s United States Open. Williams didn’t point out the hamstring damage particularly in her assertion on Wednesday, saying solely that she had determined to withdraw due to “the advice from my medical team.”
While Williams confirmed her absence, the Australian Open stated that Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 males’s singles participant, was entered in the event, which is ready to start on Jan. 17 in Melbourne.
The state authorities of Victoria is requiring that each one gamers be absolutely vaccinated to compete, and Djokovic has declined in latest weeks to disclose his vaccination standing or verify if he would play within the Australian Open, the place he has gained 9 singles titles. But he’s on the entry checklist, solely every week after his father decried the vaccination requirement as “these blackmails and conditions” and prompt his son wouldn’t play.
Williams stated she was “excited to return and compete at my highest level,” however it’s unclear when or if she is going to have the ability to obtain that purpose.
Williams, ranked 41st, has not gained a Grand Slam singles title in practically 5 years: She captured the Australian Open in January 2017 when she was two months pregnant together with her daughter, Olympia. She returned to the tour in 2018 after Olympia’s start and remarkably reached the singles finals at Wimbledon and the United States Open in 2018 and once more in 2019.
But although she gained her solely tour title since her comeback in January 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand, she has struggled to maintain momentum. She has proven flashes of sturdy kind, returning after the tour’s five-month pandemic hiatus in 2020 to succeed in the semifinals of the U.S. Open, the place she misplaced a taut three-set duel towards Victoria Azarenka. At this 12 months’s Australian Open in February, Williams arrived in Melbourne in wonderful bodily situation and was spectacular within the early rounds however was defeated in straight sets by Naomi Osaka within the semifinals.
The Australian Open has been the scene of a few of Williams’s best successes. In 2003, she gained her fourth straight Grand Slam singles title in Melbourne. In 2005, she saved three match factors within the semifinals in a basic match towards Maria Sharapova and went on to beat Lindsay Davenport within the remaining. In 2007, she got here into the event unseeded and swept to the title. In 2017, she gained whereas pregnant with out dropping a set.
But it’s now unclear if she is going to return to the event the place she has gained seven of her 23 Grand Slam singles titles: one in need of Margaret Court’s document.