Tennis Australia has issued the following statement:
Serena Williams today confirmed she has withdrawn from Australian Open 2011.
“As I continue to rehabilitate my foot after the second surgery last month, it is with the utmost regret that I am withdrawing from the Hopman Cup and the 2011 Australian Open Championships,” Serena Williams said today.
“As I recently learned, pushing myself back into my intense training too early only caused me further injury and damage.
“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 been in regular contact with Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley and made her decision after receiving further medical advice.
“I know how disappointing it will be for Serena that she’s unable to come back and defend her title at Australian Open 2011. We all know how much she enjoys playing here, and how much she loves her Aussie fans,” Tiley said.
“Serena is a great champion and we will miss her in January. We send her our very best wishes for a speedy recovery and look forward to welcoming her back to Australia soon.”
With Serena out of Melbourne the WTA field is wide open. Will someone win their first major or will the winner of the Australian Open be an established player? Will Serena drop out of the top ten by missing Australia.
While all of this will be debated over the next few days I want to go on record now as saying I think this is the right decision for Serena. Rushing her return to competition is what caused this to begin with.
Rest and take care of yourself Serena. Come back when you're healed.