Tennis superstar Serena Williams has announced that she will not compete in the Australian Open.
Williams made the announcement Thursday, stating she wasn’t completely sure she could defend her title and win. According to ESPN, Williams said via a press statement, “After competing in Abu Dhabi I realized that although I am super close, I’m not where I personally want to be. 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.”
The newlywed and mom, who married Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in November after giving birth to their daughter Alexis Olympia in September, returned to the court for the first time in over a year at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi, suffering a loss to Jelena Ostapenko in an exhibition match.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley says he admires Williams’ determination to return to the game. “The true champion Serena is has been demonstrated in the herculean efforts she has made over the past few months in her desire to play the Australian Open. Serena transcends the sport in the way she approaches all aspects of her life and consistently gives her all in everything she does. It was never going to be good enough for her to just compete, she wants to give herself the best chance to win.”
In her statement, she added, “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.”