Although everything was set for Serena Williams to make her big competitive comeback at Australian Open, that won’t be the case. After playing an exhibition match against French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, Williams realized she isn’t ready and needs more time for a full comeback. She lost the match against Ostapenko 2–6, 6-3, [5–10].
“After competing in Abu Dhabi I realized that although I am super close, I’m not where I personally want to be,” – said Williams in a statement. “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. With that being said, and even though I am disappointed about it, I’ve decided not to compete in the Australian Open this year.“
Serena Williams won the Australian Open tournament in 2017 while she was eight weeks pregnant, and then took a break from tennis. In the meantime, she gave birth to a daughter named Alexis Olympia in September 2017 and married Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian two months later.
The 36-year-old is currently sitting behind Australian Margaret Court in most Grand Slam tournament singles titles. Court won 24 titles, while Williams has 23, and she believed that she can get tied with Court at Australian Open 2018. Now, the French Open looks like a more realistic option.
Williams isn’t the only big name that will miss the first Grand Slam of the season. Former world No.1 tennis player Andy Murray also announced that he won’t be able to compete in Melbourne due to a hip injury. Novak Djokovic might not play as well and will make his decision after playing few exhibition matches next week.