Serena Williams to miss Australian Open but Novak Djokovic included on entry list

American 23-time major champion has not played since retiring at Wimbledon in June

Serena Williams during her most recent match in the first round of Wimbledon on June 29. PA
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Serena Williams will miss next month's Australian Open after the American great was omitted from the entry list released on Wednesday.

Williams, 40, has not played since retiring from her first round match at Wimbledon in June with a hamstring injury. Even before Wimbledon, the 23-time Grand Slam champion had only played five tournaments last season, and her ranking has since slipped to No 41.

The Australian Open’s website confirmed that Williams would not compete in Melbourne “following advice from her medical team”.

“While this is never an easy decision to make, I am not where I need to be physically to compete,” Williams told the website. “Melbourne is one of my favourite cities to visit and I look forward to playing at the AO every year. I will miss seeing the fans, but am excited to return and compete at my highest level.”

Williams' best result in 2021 was at the Australian Open where she reached the semi-finals before going down to eventual champion Naomi Osaka. The American is a seven-time winner at Melbourne Park and won the most recent of her major titles there in 2017.

Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, was on the men’s entry list at No 1 in a further indication that he’ll be playing at Melbourne Park beginning January 17, despite Australia’s strict regulations requiring all players, officials and fans to be fully vaccinated for Covid-19.

Defending and record nine-time champion Djokovic has declined to comment on his vaccination status in recent months, although he was included last week on the Serbia team for the ATP Cup which starts January 1 in Sydney.

The world No 1 is tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the men’s record of 20 Grand Slam singles titles. Nadal is also entered for the Australian Open, but Federer is skipping the tournament as he continues his recovery from surgery. The Swiss great last month said he does not expect to return to the tour until the middle of 2022.

Daniil Medvedev, who ended Djokovic’s bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam with a victory in the US Open final, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev are listed above No 6 Nadal, who is not playing for Spain at the ATP Cup.

Ashleigh Barty tops the women’s entry list and will continue her quest to end a long drought for Australian women at the tournament. No Australian woman has won the singles title since Chris O’Neil in 1978.

Defending champion Osaka is listed at No 13, one place below 2020 champion Sofia Kenin.

Updated: December 08, 2021, 9:23 AM