MELBOURNE, Australia -- Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Australian Open due to a foot injury and won't be defending her title at the first tennis Grand Slam of next season. Tournament director Craig Tiley released a statement Thursday saying Williams had withdrawn from the Hopman Cup international mixed teams competition in Perth and the Australian Open in January.
It will be the second consecutive major Williams will miss, and the loss of 2,000 rankings points could cost the 29-year-old American her place in the top 10. Williams has only played one exhibition match since winning at Wimbledon last year. She had surgery after cutting her foot on broken glass at a restaurant following her title at Wimbledon. She returned to practice in September but twice put off her comeback, missing the U.S. Open, the season-ending WTA tournament, the Fed Cup and a handful of tour-level events.
She said she had more surgery last month and couldn't risk returning before the injury had properly healed. "As I recently learned, pushing myself back into my intense training too early only caused me further injury and damage," Williams was quoted as saying. "While I desperately want to be back on the court and competing in the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, it is imperative for my health that I continue to work with my doctors to ensure my foot heals properly.
"This decision, though heavy on my heart, is the right one. I am praying for a healthy recovery and I promise my Aussie fans and my fans around the world that I will be back better than ever as soon as I can be." Williams has won the Australian Open five times, including the past two and is a popular draw in Melbourne.
"Serena is a great champion and we will miss her in January," Tiley said. Sisters Serena and Venus Williams have been the dominant women in tennis for a decade, when fit. Serena has won at least one title from all four majors among her 13 Grand Slam singles crowns. Williams finished No. 4 in the rankings in 2010 despite only playing six tournaments, including her wins at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
She missed three months early in the season with a left knee injury, and hasn't played a tour tournament since Wimbledon. Despite that, she spent most of the year at No. 1 _ taking her career tally to 123 weeks atop the women's rankings _ until being replaced by Caroline Wozniacki on Oct. 11. While recuperating, Serena Williams has spent time pursuing her wide-ranging business and fashion interests and work for her foundation, which is dedicated to educating children in Africa.