Last year’s champion and 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams has announced that she will not be competing at this year’s Australian Open in two weeks time. The American gave birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia back on September 1, 2017, and hasn’t played on the tour at all since winning last year’s Australian Open.
Williams played an exhibition match against Jelena Ostapenko last Saturday (and lost), which she used to assess how ready she was ahead of the Australian Open. She found out that while she has made progress she’s still not where she wants to be and claims that when she enters a tournament it must always be with the goal and real possibility of lifting the trophy at the end.
The announcement was first made by Williams on her personal Snapchat account and has since been made official. A return is expected to happen in the American hardcourt Masters, most likely in Indian Wells, beginning on March 7. Williams still feels capable of returning to the highest level and add to her impressive Grand Slam and overall title tally, and if history has taught us anything it won’t be long until she’s the one to beat again.
Williams’s absence opens up thing in the women’s draw at the Australian Open. Regardless of how long it has been since her last match, Williams is an imposing presence looming over the entire WTA tour and has the mental edge over most if not all of their competitors, along with a certain aura of invincibility. The other top players in the women’s game and players looking to make their first breakthrough will certainly feel more optimistic about their chances knowing they won’t have to face arguably the best player in the history of the WTA tour.
Williams’ absence means that whenever she returns to tour, she will come back with no ranking points. Among other things, this means that she will not be seeded in any of her first comeback tournaments, and could draw a high seed in even the first round.