On This Day in 2018 – New mother Serena Williams withdraws from Australian Open


Serena Williams withdrew from the Australian Open on January 5, 2018 and announced she would not defend the title she won while pregnant.

The American had kept secret the fact she was expecting her first child as she swept to a 23rd grand slam title in 2017, defeating sister Venus 6-4 6-4 in the final.

Williams gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia in September of the same year and ultimately decided to delay her return to the big stage.

Williams had played an exhibition match on December 30 in Abu Dhabi against Jelena Ostapenko, testing out her fitness in a 6-2 3-6 10-5 defeat, and that prompted her decision to sit out the new year’s first grand slam.

She said: “After competing in Abu Dhabi I realised 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.”

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said: “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.

“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.

“We all wish her the very best and I look forward to seeing her back on court this year, and can’t wait to welcome her back to the Australian Open in 2019.”

Williams went on to reach four more grand slam finals but did not win another title before retiring in 2022.



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