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Serena Williams won the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant. Five months after giving birth, she won’t be back to defend her title.
Williams announced Thursday that she had decided not to compete at the first Grand Slam of 2018, which begins January 15 in Melbourne.
“My coach and team always said ‘Only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way,'” Williams said in a short statement posted to Snapchat.
Williams gave birth to a baby girl, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., on Aug. 31. Last weekend, less than four months after giving birth, she lost her first match back, to Latvian Jelena Ostapenko at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. Williams won the second set, but lost a third-set tiebreak.
“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,” Williams wrote in her Snapchat message.
She said after the loss to Ostapenko, the French Open champion, that it was “good to be back on the court,” but admitted her mind wandered to her daughter during the match. “I was a little worried out there and I looked at my camp and I was like, ‘Is Olympia ok?'” she said in her on-court interview.
Williams, 36, played in last year’s Australian Open while pregnant, and won her 23rd Grand Slam singles title. It was also her seventh Australian Open title. She then took a leave, and hadn’t played until the match in Abu Dhabi.
With the Australian Open a no-go, her first Grand Slam tournament since her return could be the 2018 French Open, which begins in late May.