Australian Open: Williams sisters to be absent from Grand Slam for first time since 1997

For the first time since 1997, neither Serena or Venus Williams will compete at the Australian Open

For the first time since 1997, neither Serena or Venus Williams will compete at the Australian Open.

Venus Williams, who has not played since August due to a leg injury, has confirmed she will not be playing at this month’s Grand Slam.

The 41-year-old would have needed a wildcard to contest the tournament anyway, having plummeted to world number 318 in recent months.

She will be joining her sister on the sidelines – Serena Williams revealed last month that she had withdrawn from the Australian Open on advice from her medical team.

“Following the advice of my medical team, I have decided to withdraw from this year’s Australian Open,” she said. “While this is not an easy decision to make, I am not where I need to be physically to compete.

“Melbourne is one of my favourite cities to visit and I look forward to playing at the Australian Open every year. I will miss seeing the fans but I am excited to return and compete at my highest level.”

The 40-year-old has not played since June, when she quit her first-round match at Wimbledon with a leg injury.

Serena Williams reached the semi-finals of last year's Australian Open

As a result, a Williams sister will not be in the draw for the Australian Open for the first time in 25 years.

Despite winning seven Grand Slams during her career, Venus Williams has yet to triumph at the prestigious tournament in Melbourne.

She made the final in both 2003 and 2017, losing to her sister Serena in the latter match.

Venus Williams has won four Australian Open doubles titles and a mixed doubles title in 1998, however.

Serena Williams won the last of her 23 Grand Slams at the Australian Open in 2017. She reached the semi-final last year, but was defeated by eventual winner Naomi Osaka.

Serena Williams beat Venus Williams in the final of the 2017 Australian Open

The American star is currently world number 41. Retirement rumours have swirled for some time now, but Serena is yet to reveal when she will step away from the court, desperate to clinch a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam.

The Australian Open gets underway on January 17th.

Osaka is the only one of last year’s semi-finalists to enter the 2022 draw – Serena Williams, Jennifer Brady and Karolína Muchová have all withdrawn with injury.

The field is still stacked with talent, however, and home favourite Ashleigh Barty will be considered the player to beat.

The world number one and two-time Grand Slam winner is yet to triumph at the Australian Open, reaching the semi-final in 2020.

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