Serena William Withdraws From Australian Open 12 Days Before The Tournament

Tennis champion Serena Williams gave birth to her first child last September and says she's not yet ready to compete

Serena Williams won't be defending her Australian Open title after the American withdrew from the first grand slam of the 2018 season, saying she needs "more time" after giving birth previous year.

"After competing in Abu Dhabi I realized that although I am super close, I'm not where I personally want to be", Williams said in a statement.

"I can compete - but I don't want to just compete".

Tournament director Craig Tiley said Serena Williams waited as long as she could before letting organizers know she wouldn't be able to compete.

"She had some complications - I mean, the baby was flawless, but she had some issues afterwards - and these medical issues delayed the moment that she could come back to practice".

The American tennis star had had a baby girl about four months ago and hasn't played competitive tennis since winning the Australia Open 2017 during which she was pregnant.

Williams' absence, while disappointing for fans and officials, raises the prospect of another first-time grand slam victor making their mark in Melbourne.

"Serena transcends the sport in the way she approaches all aspects of her life".

"After the two events, a decision will be made about his participation at the first Grand Slam of the season, the Australian Open, where Novak has been crowned champion six times".

In her announcement, Williams said that she will soon return to the Australian Open, but will first focus on her daughter. "She wants to give herself the best chance to win", Tiley said.

On Thursday, Britain's Andy Murray pulled out of the tournament, which starts on 15 January.

Serena Williams will not participate at this year's Australian Open.

There are also doubts over the fitness of Spanish world number one Rafael Nadal and Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka, who won the title in 2014.

Sydney International will boast the other three 2017 grand slam winners in Jelena Ostapenko (French Open), Garbine Muguruza (Wimbledon) and Sloane Stephens (US Open).

Romanian Simona Halep, the current world No.1, and Dane Caroline Wozniacki are jostling for women's top seeding status in Melbourne.

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