Serena Williams Withdraws from Australian Open Due to Fitness Concerns

Serena Williams

Williams gave birth to her first child with husband Alexis Ohanian in September, her sister Venus told ESPN's Pam Shriver.

The 36-year-old was eight weeks pregnant last year when she triumphed for a seventh time at Melbourne Park to claim an Open-era record 23rd Grand Slam title and then took the rest of the year off before giving birth to a daughter. "With that being said I am disappointed to say I've decided not to compete in The Australian Open this year".

There were encouraging signs for Williams as she fell to Jelena Ostapenko in a tight exhibition match in Abu Dhabi last week, though the news today that she will not be in action ahead of the Australian Open suggests she may not be ready for a full return to tour.

The 23-time Grand Slam singles victor said, "After competing in Abu Dhabi I realized that although I am super close, I'm not where I personally want to be".

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Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Australian Open saying she is not quite in the right head space to compete at the highest level. "I appreciate the support and understanding of my fans and everyone at the Australian Open".

On Thursday, men's world number 22 Kei Nishikori withdrew because of a wrist injury.

"The true champion Serena is has been demonstrated in the Herculean efforts she has made over the past few months in her desire to play the Australian Open", Tiley said. She remained hopeful of making a return to Australia and defend her title but admitted that it's a tough task and therefore, chose to walk out. There is no word yet on when she will be, but Miami in March may be a good bet.

There are also doubts over the fitness of Spanish world number one Rafael Nadal and Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka, who won the title in 2014.

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