‘I need a little more time’, Serena Williams says as she pulls out of Australian Open

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30 : Serena Williams of United States is seen after 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. (Photo by Mahmoud Khaled/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Serena Williams has pulled out of the upcoming Australian Open, saying she needs ‘a little more time’ before returning to major tournaments.

The American, who has won the competition seven times and is the reigning champion, will not be present when the action gets underway on January 15.

Williams has played just one exhibition match since the birth of her daughter Olympia in September and 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.

‘With that being said, and even though I am disappointed about it, I’ve decided not to compete in the Australian Open this year.

‘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.’