After winning the Australian Open last year while pregnant, Serena Williams has made the decision that neither she or her 4-month-old daughter, Alexis Olympia, will be there to defend her title this year.
Just 12 days before the start of the tournament, the 36-year-old tennis star announced she was withdrawing from the competition this year.
“After performing in my first match after giving birth I realized that although I am super close, I’m not where I personally want to be,” she wrote on Snapchat.
“My coach and team always said ‘Only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way.’ With that being said I am disappointed to say I’ve decided not to compete in The Australian Open this year,” she said.
In April, the 23rd Grand Slam singles winner shared that she and her husband Alexis Ohanian were expecting their first child, sharing that she was 20 weeks into her pregnancy. After some quick math, people realized that she was about eight weeks pregnant when she won her seventh Australian Open title last January.
Unfortunately for Williams after having her daughter, she wasn't the same on the court.
"I can compete - but I don't want to just compete, I want to do far better than that and to do so, I will need a little more time," Williams admitted.
The Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley was aware of the decision.
"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 11th hour to make her final decision," he said.
"Serena transcends the sport in the way she approaches all aspects of her life. It was never going to be good enough for her to just compete."
On December 30, the athlete faced off against French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and was defeated in an exhibition match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi. Struggling with her serve in the first match, she was trumped 6-2. She ended up rebounding in the second, winning 3-2, but ended up losing in a tiebreaker 10-5.
Even though she lost to the 20-year-old rising star, Williams remained in good spirits.
“It’s good to be back on the court,” Williams said after the match. “This was such a good time for me. First matches back are always super-incredibly hard, especially after having a baby. It was great. I was glad I could do it here.”
This is only the second time since 2011 that Williams has missed the tournament.
It's been a busy year for Williams after giving birth to her daughter in September, and then marrying Ohanian just two months later.
Williams beat her older sister, Venus, in last year's championship match and that is not an event she will soon forget.
“The memory of last year’s Open is one that I will carry with me and Olympia and I look forward to coming back again. I appreciate the support and understanding of my fans and everyone at the Australian Open,” she concluded her statement.
What do you think of her decision? Will you miss watching her at The Open this year?