Defending champion Serena Williams withdraws from Australian Open

Defending champion Serena Williams withdraws from Australian Open

Serena Williams unwillingly pulled out of this year's Australian Open, saying that the she is close to regaining full fitness but not at the top of her game and defend her title.

She has played just once in public since, losing to French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in Abu Dhabi last week, but was still hopeful of making a remarkable return at the Australian Open until she admitted defeat a week ahead of the event.

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam victor and Australian Open champion, said: "Although I am super close, I'm not where I want to be". She's decided that she isn't ready to perform at a professional level after giving birth in September. After withdrawing from Abu Dhabi and Doha due to a right elbow injury, the former world No. 1 announced, through his official website, that he will play two exhibition tournaments, which will be the decisive and final test to decide whether to play Australian Open.

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Williams had told Vogue magazine last August about her "outrageous plan" to defend her title but the short turnaround after giving birth has proven too much for even the greatest player of her generation.

Kim Clijsters returned from retirement after having a daughter, Jada Elle, in February 2008, and won the 2009 U.S. Open in her third tournament back.

Williams began last year's Australian Open one week after learning she was pregnant.

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Tournament director Craig Tiley said Serena Williams waited as long as she could before letting organizers know she wouldn't be able to compete. In terms of total years, it was the oldest Grand Slam women's final in the Open era -Williams sisters combining for 71 years, 11 months.

The 2018 Australian Open will begin on January 15.

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