Serena Williams out in latest blow to Australian Open
The 23-times Grand Slam champion and defending title-holder joined the list of Melbourne absentees, which includes Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori.
Serena Williams will not defend her title at Melbourne Park this month after withdrawing from the Australian Open.
The 23-time grand slam champion joins the growing list of absentees for the year's opening major, which already includes five-time runner-up Andy Murray and former world number four Kei Nishikori, with doubts also over star duo Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
Serena has not played a competitive match since claiming a record-equalling slam at the Australian Open last year, having given birth to her first child in September.
The 36-year-old American featured in an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi and lost to Jelena Ostapenko, and she was non-committal on her Australian Open plans following the outing, while she turned down the offer for a wildcard to the Sydney International.
Serena: "I don't just want to compete, I want to do better than that"
"After competing in Abu Dhabi I realised that although I am super close, I'm not where I personally want to be," Williams said.
"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."