Serena Williams withdraws from Australian Open

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It is pertinent to mention here that World No 1 and former champion Rafael Nadal and six-time Australian Open victor Novak Djokovic withdrew from tournaments leading up to the first major of the year, also bringing their availability for the event in doubt. She gave birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia, in September.

The 23-time grand slam victor returned to the court at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi at the weekend, less than four months after becoming a mum, but playing that tournament has given the American pause for thought.

"With that being said, and even though I am disappointed about it, I've decided not to compete in the Australian Open this year".

He was upset in Round Two of the Australian Open by Uzbekistani Denis Istomin, ranked 117th in the world at the time, and also lost in the Quarter Finals of the French Open to Dominic Thiem.

Williams didn't drop a set while winning last year's title, and her victory helped her regain the world No.1 ranking. The tennis star, who was eight weeks pregnant with daughter Olympia when she won her seventh Australian Open title previous year, confirmed that she would not be returning to the court as she "needs more time". She won in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015 and 2017. In terms of total years, it was the oldest Grand Slam women's final in the Open era -Williams sisters combining for 71 years, 11 months. However, Serena now said that she is not fully ready to return for the season-opening Grand Slam as she believes her preparations had fallen just short of what she needed to be competitive.

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Six-time Australian Open victor Djokovic still remains highly doubtful for the Australian Open but will be travelling to Australia to compete in the Tie Break Tens at the Margaret Court Arena at Melbourne Park on January 10.

There is also uncertainty over whether former champions Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka and Rafa Nadal, the latter of which arrived in Melbourne earlier on Friday, will be fit to take to the court.

"I appreciate the support and understanding of my fans and everyone at the Australian Open".

Meanwhile, Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley expressed his admiration on Serena's efforts to return to the game she likes.

With Serena Williams out, the women's singles title at Melbourne appears to be wide open.

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