With less than two weeks to go until the 2018 Australian Open kicks off in Melbourne on January 15, Serena Williams has decided to pull out of the first major tournament of the tennis season. The pro athlete, who gave birth to her first child, daughter Alexis Olympia, just over four months ago, announced the news in a statement posted on her Snapchat account on Thursday.
"After performing in my first match after giving birth I realized that although I am super close I'm not where I personally want to be," Serena wrote. "My coach and team always said 'Only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way.' With that being said I am disappointed to say I've decided not to compete in the Australian Open this year." Serena, who won last year's Open while a few weeks pregnant with her daughter, continued, "However, 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. I appreciate the support and understanding of my fans and everyone at the Australian Open."
During an October press conference, just one month after Serena had given birth, the Australian Open's tournament director expressed his belief that the seven-time tournament champ would participate in the 2018 event. "Serena will be back," Craig Tiley said, according to Sports Illustrated. "We look forward to welcoming her and again go on that journey of breaking the all-time record for the most number of Grand Slams." He added, "I've been in contact with all the top players and am pleased to announce we'll have the full top 100 men and women returning to the Australian Open."
Serena made her public return to the tennis court in early December, when she and sister Venus hosted the "A Family Affair, Presented by Oath" event at the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center in Washington, D.C., as a fundraiser for their Compton-based Yetunde Price Resource Center, according to the Women's Tennis Association. Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who married Serena in New Orleans in November, shared a photo of his wife playing a doubles match during the event. "For a great cause. Great community. #AFamilyAffair for the Yetunde Price Resource Center. Thanks to everyone who came out to support the fundraiser," he wrote.