Novak Djokovic to play exhibition events before Australian Open

Novak Djokovic to play exhibition events before Australian Open

Defending champion Serena Williams pulled out of the Australian Open on Friday, saying she was still not at the level she needs to be after giving birth to her first child.

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

The 23-time Grand Slam victor defeated her sister Venus in last year's Australian Open 6-4 6-4 and had a second consecutive title in her sights when the tournament started later this month.

"After performing in my first match after giving birth I realized that although I am super close I'm not where I personally want to be".

When Williams won last year's Australian Open she was already two months pregnant. On January 4, the tennis champ shared her decision to withdraw from the 2018 Australian Open, and offered a heartfelt explanation as to why.

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"Serena transcends the sport in the way she approaches all aspects of her life".

"It was never going to be good enough for her to just compete, she wants to give herself the best chance to win".

Serena Williams of United States looks on during 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.

Williams' absence, while disappointing for fans and officials, raises the prospect of another first-time grand slam victor making their mark in Melbourne.

"After pulling out from Abu Dhabi and ATP Doha events due to pain in his right elbow, Novak is travelling to Australia where he will take part in two exhibition tournaments", reads a statement on Djokovic's official website.

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