Tennis legend Serena Williams will experience a dramatic fall in the world rankings after sitting out of the Australian Open with injury.
Williams revealed last month that she had withdrawn from the Grand Slam on advice from her medical team.
The 40-year-old has not played since June, when she quit her first-round match at Wimbledon with a leg injury.
Her absence from the court will have a significant impact on her position in WTA rankings. She is currently 59th in the world, but could fall well outside of the top 200.
“Not playing the #AusOpen, where she made the semifinals last year in a remarkable run, Serena Williams’ ranking is going to take a hard fall, likely somewhere between #240 and #250,” tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg posted on Twitter.
“Williams was still in the top 10 last summer, so this has been a very steep drop.”
This fall in rankings could affect Williams’s inclusion in major tournaments, but a Twitter user pointed out that she would likely always be invited to compete at Grand Slams as a wildcard.
“It’s absolutely indifferent. Once she left the top 16 or the top 32, she won’t be seeded anymore, but will still get as many wild cards as she wishes,” they wrote.
“So probably she doesn’t care about the rankings anymore.”
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.
Retirement rumours have swirled for some time now, but Williams is yet to reveal when she will step away from the court, desperate to clinch a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam.
In her statement confirming her withdrawal from the Australian Open, Williams said she would definitely be returning to the court.
“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.”
Venus Williams, who has not played since August due to a leg injury, also confirmed she would not be playing at the Australian Open.
The 41-year-old would have needed a wildcard to contest the tournament anyway, having plummeted to world number 347 in recent months.
As a result, a Williams sister was not in the draw for the Australian Open for the first time in 25 years.