Serena Williams is just the latest in a line of big name tennis stars either out or in doubt to play at the upcoming Australian Open. Williams, who took out last year’s Women’s title while pregnant with the daughter Olympia, has contacted organisers saying she will miss the January 15-28 grand slam.
“After competing in Abu Dhabi I realised that although I am super close, I’m not where I personally want to be,” Williams said. Given that she gave birth last September, to be even this close to returning to competition is a herculean feat.
It now seems likely the former world No 1 will return to competition during the US hardcourt swing in either February or March ahead of the French Open in May.
It appears that this year’s competition might be wide open, we could be looking at a fairy tale underdog story. Venus Williams is set for a major comeback, hoping to go one better than last year. A win in Melbourne would make her the oldest player to win a major grand slam surpassing Ken Rosewall.
For the men, it’s a slightly harder task with 2017’s Men Singles champion Roger Federer in fine form, it might just be a case of David vs Goliath.
OTHER NOTABLE WITHDRAWALS
Andy Murray: the former world No.1 and five-times runner-up is out due to an ongoing hip injury
Kei Nishikori: the former world No.4 and US Open runner-up is the first big name to officially withdraw after succumbing to a wrist injury.
Svetlana Kuznetsova: the dual grand slam champion and world No.12 will miss the women’s event with a wrist injury.
Rafael Nadal: the world No.1 continues to battle a knee injury that forced his withdrawal from Brisbane. Still likely to start but no guarantees.
Novak Djokovic: the six-times Open champion hasn’t played since Wimbledon and will make a call after testing his elbow in exhibition events at Kooyong and Melbourne Park.
Stan Wawrinka: the 2014 Open champion also hasn’t been sighted in six months as he battles a knee injury that will restrict his build-up to next week’s one- night Tie Break Tens.
Victoria Azarenka: the two-time champion and former world No.1 remains locked in a custody battle that is preventing her son leaving California.
Jack Sock: the in-form world No.8 hurt his hip in an on-court tumble at the Hopman Cup in Perth.
Garbine Muguruza: the reigning Wimbledon women’s champion retired from the Brisbane International with severe cramps but has since been cleared to play in Sydney.
Caroline Garcia: the world No.8 retired from her first-round match in Brisbane with a back injury.