18 Nov

Australian Open: Defending champion Serena Williams pulls out of season-opening Grand Slam

first_imgSerena Williams unwillingly pulled out of this year’s Australian Open, saying that the she is close to regaining full fitness but not at the top of her game and defend her title.After Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori, Serena is the third big name to pull out of the season opening Grand Slam, starting later this month.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. However, following that she stayed away from the game for the rest of the year before giving birth to a baby girl.WATCHSince then, she has just played once in Abu Dhhabi last week, where she lost to French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko. She remained hopeful of making a return to Australia and defend her title but admitted that it’s a tough task and therefore, decided to walk out.”My coach and team always said ‘only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way’. 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 said in a statement.Full story �?�️ https://t.co/PFyI9eaWXK pic.twitter.com/h4iTY6oV98- #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 5, 2018Williams had told Vogue magazine last August about her “outrageous plan” to defend her title but the short turnaround after giving birth has proven too much for even the greatest player of her generation.advertisementSerena also said that she was disappointed to withdraw but looked forward to returning in the future.”After competing in Abu Dhabi I realised that although I am super close, I’m not where I personally want to be,” Williams added.”With that being said, and even though I am disappointed about it, I’ve decided not to compete in the Australian Open this year.”Tournament director Craig Tiley called Williams’ efforts to try and be ready for a title defence at the Australian Open “Herculean” and said she transcended the sport.With Serena out of the #AusOpen, we’re going to have a new champ.Who’s it gonna be? pic.twitter.com/Bgcdch9dIy- Tennismash (@tennismash) January 5, 2018″It was never going to be good enough for her to just compete, she wants to give herself the best chance to win,” Tiley said.”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.”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.The event will be played from January 15-28 at Melbourne Park.(With inputs from Reuters)ALSO WATCH:last_img read more

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