Belfast Telegraph

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Serena pulls out of Aussie Open, insisting she needs more time


By Alexander Britton

Serena Williams has withdrawn from the season-opening Grand Slam in Melbourne and will not defend the title she won in 2017.

The 36-year-old was hoping to return to the court after the birth of her daughter Alexis Olympia in September.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner defeated her sister Venus in last year's Australian Open final 6-4 6-4 and had a second consecutive title in her sights when the tournament started later this month.

She has won the Australian Open seven times, with her first victory coming in 2003.

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

She said: "After competing in Abu Dhabi I realised 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 returned to the court on December 30 at the World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, where she lost an exhibition match against Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 3-6 10-5.

Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said: "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. It was never going to be good enough for her to just compete, she wants to give herself the best chance to win."

Kyle Edmund suffered an injury scare in a narrow loss to defending champion Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals of the Brisbane International.

After Andy Murray's withdrawal from the Australian Open and concern over a hip problem that forced Johanna Konta to retire in Brisbane earlier this week, the last thing British tennis wanted was more injury drama.

Edmund let out a cry of pain and collapsed to the court after catching his right ankle late in the third set but was able to continue with heavy strapping.

He did not win another game, though, with Dimitrov battling to a 6-3 6-7 (3/7) 6-4 victory.

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