The 36-year-old and seven-time winner Serena Williams has pulled out of this year’s Australian Open on Friday.
News of the grand slam champion’s withdrawal came less than 24 hours after five-time runner-up Andy Murray succumbed to a chronic hip injury and also withdrew.
Several other big names, including top-ranked Rafael Nadal, six-time champion Novak Djokovic and 2014 winner Stan Wawrinka, also remain under fitness clouds.
Williams, however, has vowed to return to Melbourne Park in pursuit of an eighth Australian Open crown.
Serena said she needed more time to be ready to defend her title after regaining full fitness. This came after she gave birth to her first child in September.
“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,”
“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.”
Williams noted that she was disappointed to withdraw but looked forward to returning in the future.
The 23-time Grand Slam winner and the reigning Australian Open champion, said: “Although I am super close, I’m not where I want to be.”
BBC sports report that, Craig Tiley said: “I’ve been in constant contact with Serena and her team and know this is why she has pushed it and pushed it until the 11th hour to make her final decision.
“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.”
Williams lost an exhibition contest against Jelena Ostapenko in Abu Dhabi on 30 December 2017, in her first match since giving birth in September