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Serena Williams out of Australian Open

Serena Williams out of Australian Open

Serena Williams out of Australian Open

Prior to that her last competitive match was at the Australian Open final nearly a year ago, which she won despite being two months pregnant, memorably beating sister Venus in the decider. I can compete, but I don't want to just compete.

Williams had told Vogue magazine last August about her "outrageous plan" to defend her title, but the short turnaround after giving birth has proven too much for even the greatest player of her generation.

Defending champion Serena Williams pulled out of the Australian Open on Friday, saying she was "super close " but still not at the level she needs to be after giving birth to her first child.

But on Friday morning the former world number one said she was withdrawing from the tournament, which starts on January 15.

The American 23-time Grand Slam victor made a tentative return at an Abu Dhabi exhibition late last month, losing to French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko. Pictured: Williams at her Ladies Final match against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

"After competing in Abu Dhabi, I realised that although I am super close, I'm not where I personally want to be", Williams added.

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Williams didn't drop a set while winning last year's title, and her victory helped her regain the world No.1 ranking.

Serena backed out after pushing her decision to the eleventh hour as she just didn't want to compete but win the tournament.

There are also fitness concerns regarding top seeds Rafael Nadal and six-time champion Novak Djokovic, although Nadal has landed in Melbourne and was seen hitting the courts.

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

"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".

Williams previous year beat sister Venus in the final, and later revealed she played the tournament despite knowing she was pregnant.

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