Reigning champion Serena Williams has withdrawn from this month's Australian Open in Melbourne. The tennis star, who was eight weeks pregnant with daughter Olympia when she won her seventh Australian Open title last year, confirmed that she would not be returning to the court as she "needs more time". The 36-year-old explained: "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."
Serena Williams has withdrawn from this month's Australian Open in Melbourne
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." After giving birth to her first child in September, Serena returned to the court on December 30 at the World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, but lost the exhibition match against Jelena Ostapenko. Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said: "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."
Serena is currently the world number one female tennis player, who has won an Open-era record 23 Grand Slams in her career so far. The sports star and her husband Alexis Ohanian welcomed their little girl in September. Serena needs one more major title to equal the all-time record held by Margaret Court, who won 13 of her 24 Grand Slam titles. Meanwhile, the mother-of-one's withdrawal comes one day after Britain's Andy Murray pulled out from the men's event because of a chronic hip injury.