In the end, it’s just too soon.
Serena Williams, who had entered the Australian Open amid hopes that it would be her first tournament back since giving birth to daughter Alexis Olympia four months ago, won’t be there.
It was a longshot anyway, despite Australian Open tournament Craig Tiley’s blithe assurances that she would be in Melbourne to defend her title.
But everyone knows better than to underestimate Williams.
“After competing in Abu Dhabi I realized 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,” Williams said in a statement released by the tournament.
“With that being said, and even though I am disappointed about it, I’ve decided not to compete in the Australian Open this year. 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.”
Williams got a last-minute call to play an exhibition at the star-deprived Abu Dhabi men’s exhibition event last weekend.
She faced reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, and lost in a match tiebreak after taking a set.
The fact that Williams is still home in Florida (where it’s unseasonably cold, and therefore not much good as preparation for the Australian summer) was a pretty good indicator that she wasn’t going to make it.
“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,” Tiley said in a statement.
“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.”