Serena to skip Oz Open

Tennis champion Serena Williams gave birth to her first child last September and says she's not yet ready to compete

Serena Williams unwillingly pulled out of this year's Australian Open, saying that the she is close to regaining full fitness but not at the top of her game and defend her title.

She made a tentative return at an Abu Dhabi exhibition late last month.

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam victor and the reigning Australian Open champion, said: "Although I am super close, I'm not where I want to be".

The world number 22 said: "My coach and team always said "only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way".

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"I can compete - but I don't want to just compete".

"We all wish her the very best and I look forward to seeing her back on court this year, and can't wait to welcome her back to the Australian Open in 2019".

The American tennis star had had a baby girl about four months ago and hasn't played competitive tennis since winning the Australia Open 2017 during which she was pregnant.

The upcoming Australian Open women's draw won't include the defending champion.

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"With that being said, I am disappointed to say I've decided not to compete in the Australian Open this year". Pictured: Williams at 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.

"I've been in constant contact with Serena and her team and know this is why she has pushed it and pushed it until the 11th hour to make her final decision".

Stan Wawrinka: the 2014 Open champion also hasn't been sighted in six months as he battles a knee injury that will restrict his build-up to next week's one- night Tie Break Tens.

Sydney International will boast the other three 2017 grand slam winners in Jelena Ostapenko (French Open), Garbine Muguruza (Wimbledon) and Sloane Stephens (US Open). No. 1-ranked Simona Halep and No. 3 Caroline Wozniacki are bidding to win their first Grand Slam singles titles.

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