Reigning champion Serena Williams pulls out of Australian Open

Reigning champion Serena Williams pulls out of Australian Open

The 23-time major victor and women's titleholder gave birth to her first child last September and says she's not yet ready for a comeback.

"We are fully aware that some players are going through a hard period with injuries and that they have done everything possible to prepare for the Australian summer", Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said while talking to The Dependent.

The tennis star won last year's Australian open when she was secretly two months pregnant. This was her 23rd Grand Slam singles title, surpassing Steffi Graf's Open Era record of 22.

Since then, she has just played once in Abu Dhhabi last week, where she lost to French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam victor and the reigning Australian Open champion, said: "Although I am super close, I'm not where I want to be".

Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Australian Open saying she is not quite in the right head space to compete at the highest level.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", she added.

Lawrence Robertson, the tournament director, revealed that representatives from the tournament had been speaking to Williams' and her team for about three months about potentially playing in the tournament, though the American confirmed to the tournament earlier today she would not be in action. "She wants to give herself the best chance to win", Tiley said.

Serena also said that she was disappointed to withdraw but looked forward to returning in the future.

"I've been in constant contact with Serena and her team and know this is why she has pushed it and pushed it until the eleventh hour to make her final decision".

Williams' absence, while disappointing for fans and officials, raises the prospect of another first-time grand slam victor making their mark in Melbourne.

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.

The 2018 Australian Open will begin on January 15.

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