Serena Williams pulls out of the 2022 Australian Open, doesn’t promise to come back

TENNIS : Australian Open 2021

In February of this year, Serena Williams lost to Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open semifinals. I’m still mad about that match, by the way! Serena could have won that match and it was almost like she wasn’t concentrating or she just gave up. After the match, Serena stopped before she walked off the court. She put her bags down and took in the applause, and clapped at the adoring crowd. Serena loves Australia and she has seven AO singles titles. Her last Slam title came in Australia in 2017. Anyway, people thought there was a bittersweet finality to the way Serena left the court, like maybe it was her last time playing there.

Still, there were hopes that Serena would launch her comeback next month in Australia. She still hasn’t retired from the sport nor has she mentioned retirement, but she hasn’t played since Wimbledon in June, when she was injured in her first-round match. It was a hamstring injury and all of us hoped that she would be all healed up for Australia. Not so much. Serena wasn’t on the AO entry list, which came out yesterday. People speculated that perhaps this was the complete end. But Serena issued a statement through AO:

It’s curiously worded. She isn’t saying that she’ll return to Australia in 2023 to compete, she’s just saying that she generally enjoys competing in Melbourne. I mean, granted, she’s earned the right to keep her options open, whether that’s calling it a day or leaving open the possibility of extending her career indefinitely. I also agree that Serena isn’t in shape to compete right now. Even in her curated social media posts, she hasn’t stepped foot on a tennis court in months! Maybe that is because of the injury, or maybe her heart just isn’t in it. Is anyone taking bets on whether she’ll be okay for Indian Wells/Miami in March? I doubt it. I doubt she’ll play on clay either. Maybe Wimbledon. And then goodbye in New York?

This was her press conference in Australia in February after she lost in the semifinal.

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12 Responses to “Serena Williams pulls out of the 2022 Australian Open, doesn’t promise to come back”

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  1. chai35 says:

    I think she’s done period. She has so much going on that’s not tennis and she’s seemed distracted and uninterested in most of her tennis matches before her injury. I don’t think she wants to say goodbye with a second round exit and doesn’t want to put in the work to get farther than that, which is fine! Her life seems awesome as it is, I wouldn’t want to try to make a comeback either.

    • Still_Sarah says:

      @ chai35 : I agree it’s a good time for SW to step away. She has done SO MUCH for herself, women’s tennis and female athletes already that I feel she is more than entitled to rest on her substantial accomplishments at this time. I believe she was chasing Margaret Court’s record of total Grand Slam wins and kept playing because of this. But tennis has been a full-time job for her since she was a child and she’s been doing this for decades. If I had her millions, I’d be saying bye-bye to the work involved in keeping my fitness level and athletic ability at a world class level. IMO she’s more than earned the right to move on to the next stage of her life with no regrets.

  2. Yup, Me says:

    I wonder if there’s a part of her that has been sticking it out, pushing to match (and surpass) the grand slam record but she’s really more interested in pursuing other projects and goals for her life and with her time and energy.

  3. Courtney B says:

    I don’t know if she wants more kids or not—she had a rough, traumatic labor and postpartum depression with her daughter—but if she does that could be a factor too. She’s 40 and trying to compete at such a top level is difficult and time consuming enough without rehabbing an injury.

  4. OriginalLeigh says:

    She ends by saying that she’s “excited to return and compete at my highest level.” Does that not imply that she’ll be back?

    • AppleCart says:

      It does and doesn’t, it’s open ended for a reason. If she can’t get back to the level she was she won’t return. I think she is just going to quietly retire to pursue other projects.

  5. Harla says:

    Perhaps she is taking Harry’s advice and deciding if tennis still makes her happy or is she finding her happiness elsewhere.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      yeah, this is what I think, too. she and Duchess Meg are close friends, so it would make sense that maybe she got some advice from the Sussex fam.

      and though I would be sad to see her go as I LOVE watching her play, it IS her life and if she wants to do other things that make her happier than competing does, she should do those things…she doesn’t owe anyone anything.

  6. AmelieOriginal says:

    She hasn’t won a Grand Slam since she gave birth to her daughter in 2017 and her performance has been all over the place. And yes I know she was pregnant but not showing yet when she won that Grand Slam, still boggles my mind she did that. Considering how traumatic the birth was (she had a pulmonary embolism during labor!!), I’m not surprised she never seems to have physically recovered from that. I know female athletes have “come back” after giving birth but Serena almost died from what I remember. She’s also 40, just a number of factors she’s up against. It’s always so hard for athletes to admit when their careers are done and it’s so hard to watch from the sidelines as they struggle to limp along. We already know what they can’t yet admit to themselves.

  7. Ravensdaughter says:

    Granted, all the comments above are completely legit, but what is the deal with Women’s Tennis? So many top ranked players dropping out of major tournaments! The pressure is overwhelming, of course, yet it seems to me that on top of all the usual pressure there is a toxic work environment that needs to be assessed and reworked to provide a better environment including mental health support–with a stigma–for the players.

    • chai35 says:

      Tennis is a grind and it doesn’t pay well outside of a very narrow range. As a result, players go almost year round. Though the last “official” tournaments have ended, people are still playing team tennis and the like, I am guessing for the check. You’ll also notice, especially if you watch the smaller tournaments, that many women don’t have prominent clothing deals, so they aren’t making money that way. I’m not sure how you fix that, other than pumping in a lot of money, and that’s just not there.

  8. Caseysmom says:

    I suspect Serena will make her last push at Wimbledon, then retire. She’ll play a couple or clay tournaments to get into form before Roland Garros in Paris, but will leave it all on the court at Wimbledon. She will retire and not play the US Open because of the negativity/controversy the past couple of years.