Former world champion Serena Williams joins the list of withdrawals from Australian Open 2018

Defending champion Serena Williams withdrew from the 2018 Australian Open on Friday.  The American tennis player said that although she was regaining fitness post her delivery- she gave birth to her first child in September- she did not feel entirely ready to defend her glorious title.

While eight weeks pregnant last year, the 36 year old triumphed for a seventh time at Melbourne Park to claim an Open-era record 23rd grand slam title. She then resorted to take the rest of the year off before giving birth to her daughter, Olympia. Last week, in Abu Dhabi, she played her first match post her delivery, losing to French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko. However, she hoped to make remarkable return at the Australian Open, only until she decided against it a week ahead of the Open.

 “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.

In an interaction with Vogue magazine last August, she spoke about her “outrageous plan” encircling around defending her title. Williams’ grand slam tally is just one shy of an all-time record held by former world number one Australian Margaret Court.

She expressed disappointed to withdraw but looked forward to a dynamic return in the future. She said, “After competing in Abu Dhabi I realised that although I am super close, I’m not where I personally want to be.” “

Craig Tiley, Australian Open tournament director, 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.”

The 2018 Australian Open, the year’s opening grand slam, will be played from Jan. 15-28. Williams is the latest to withdraw from it, with Britain’s Andy Murray (hip) and Japan’s Kei Nishikori (wrist) having already announced their absence.

Uncertainty also hovers around over whether or not former champions Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka and Rafa Nadal (who arrived in Melbourne earlier on Friday) will be fit to participate.

Sources: Indian Express ,BBC