Serena Williams had a great 2017 (congratulations to Serena and Taylor Swift, from the rest of us). She set a Grand Slam record in January, had a baby in September, got married to the co-founder of Reddit in November, and Nike named a building after her in December. Naturally I assumed Serena would skip into 2018 like, “Okay time to kill at tennis again!“, but that’s not going to happen just yet.
Serena was supposed to make her triumphant post-baby return to the tennis courts in December at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. She showed up, but it wasn’t so triumphant. Serena lost, but she told reporters that she was so glad to be back on the court and that it was great, adding that, “First matches back are always super-incredibly hard, especially after having a baby.”
The Australian Open is set to begin on January 15th, and everyone expected to see Serena play. But E! News says she announced she’s withdrawing from the competition. Serena explained her decision to back out with a note on Snapchat, and it sounds like that loss in December made her think she might not be ready to return just yet.
“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. 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.”
The Australian Open is one of the four events of the Grand Slam tournaments. Without an Australian Open win, Serena won’t get another Grand Slam title for 2018. Obviously Serena wants to be playing at full Serena Williams levels of success, and not whatever she would consider her current level is. A level I’m guessing she would classify as: Maria Sharipova.
It’s not known when Serena will be returning. All we know is she’s not going to Australia to compete. You might think that’s great news for everyone else who is competing in the Australian Open, but it seems more like horrible news. A not-fully-recovered post-baby Serena is literally the only hope anyone had of beating Serena Williams in one of the four important tournaments. Someone will win, but it just won’t be the same now that they’re not winning against the greatest of all time. That soft thud sound you just heard was dozens of bummed-out parents of tennis players throwing a custom-made MY DAUGHTER BEAT SERENA t-shirt into the back of the closet.